What a fortnight it’s been for the supermarkets.
With Christmas trading results season in full swing, Morrisons’ Dalton Philips is soon to be jobless, Tesco is readying itself to shed 43 stores and has shelved plans for 49 new ones while Marks & Spencer is wondering how to recover from a “disastrous” Christmas.
This is just a snapshot, but the questions it raises for Retail Newsagent readers are what action the results will prompt from the supermarkets and how independent retailers should react.
Analysts say we can expect Tesco, for example, to refocus on grocery and improve its offering and customer service. They moot increased staff levels and greater autonomy for store managers as two avenues to explore. And expect Asda’s recent price cuts to set the course for the grocery market this year, Verdict Retail’s Andy Stevens told us.
Whether you are capitalising on a closure, protecting your business as a multiple neighbour plans its comeback or simply thinking about the coming year, the key is create a plan to keep your store ahead of the game.
Create a plan to keep your store ahead of the game
Both Mr Stevens and Bestway’s symbol director James Hall told RN that independents must respond by focusing on what they are already good at: convenience, longer opening hours and community involvement. Make sure that yours is a well-run store that meets its customers’ needs. Take a leaf out of Tesco’s book when it comes to fresh and chilled offerings, highly visible deals and cross-category promotions. And avoid a price war at all costs.
Mr Hall says Tesco’s store closures should be considered a victory by retailers who have upped their game, engaged with communities and worked to keep customers loyal. How can you do that this year?