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If 2009 was the year of anything in retail, it was a year of change. The consumer changed — spending and buying less as unemployment rates soared — and strategies changed. Some retailers had to close stores, shelve expansion plans and downsize their headcounts. And most notably, attitudes changed as many retailers started to lose confidence in their businesses.
“It’s been really hard,” said Stacey Kastel of Sassy of Margate in Margate City, N.J. “Everyone has struggled — everyone.”
However, a new year is under way, and many retailers are looking at it as a time to learn from past mistakes. Some were eager to share their knowledge about key ways to elevate their business models, drive sales and keep consumers engaged.
“Keep your overhead low,” said retailer and wholesaler Shawn Ward of Shane & Shawn, who recently closed the New York-based retail shop he ran with his partner and brother, Shane, to move to a mobile store format. “Don’t ignore your sales data. You’ve got to study and learn from it.”
“In short, don’t overbuy — wait for opportunity,” added David Zaken, owner of the David Z chain of stores.
Drawing upon their best practices, here’s what other retailers told Footwear News are the dos and don’ts to thrive in the new year.
Ray Margiano, CEO and founder of Foot Solutions, Marietta, Ga.
Margiano called 2009 a “clean-up year” for the 250-store franchise operation. “As a group, we were not impacted as much as the rest of the industry, but still took a dip in sales and growth,” he said. “The first six months of 2010 will be a slow turnaround with a more positive final six months, but not even close to a full recovery.”
Do ... Adjust quickly. “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing and it hasn’t worked, then you need to shift gears and do something else.”
Don’t ... Dwell on the past. “Never look back over your shoulder. 2009 is gone and good riddance.”