The National Retail Federation (NRF) is one of the leading retail analyst groups, and they recently released their forecast for the coming year. The group had a hesitantly optimistic prediction of 3.4 percent growth across the board for all retailers, slightly less than the 3.6 percent average that’s been seen over the past decade, but still a significant and welcome climb.
Why the increase?
The NRF cites a number of reasons for the potential upcoming growth in retail sales. At the top of their list is a steady (but still somewhat weak) increase in hiring. Last year, retailers employed an average of 150,000 more people than in previous years.
Unfortunately, recent discussions about the fiscal cliff and other economic woes have decreased consumer confidence somewhat. However, the NRF predicts this factor will begin to improve toward the second half of this year.
How can retailers prepare for 2013?
While any growth is a good thing, it’s important that retailers realize there is still a lot of economic uncertainty among the general population.
“Retailers will compensate for the drag on household spending this year by managing inventories and focusing on providing value for their shoppers through unique promotions in stores and online and exclusive product lines,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay.
This means merchants must not only find ways to offer deals, but also make their promotions stand out from those offered by their competitors. One way to do this is by creating compelling store windows stocked with unique display tables, adult and child mannequins and plenty of wholesale ribbon.
Remember that customers who are seeking deals and discounts don’t want lower quality items – they want the same high quality they may have been willing to pay full price for before the recession, but at a lower cost. Customers use displays and store upkeep as a way to assess the quality of certain items, so showcasing your products on new and unique store fixtures will show them you care about your wares.
Shoppers may also choose to return to your store over others if they feel they connect with the staff on hand. Training your employees to be particularly friendly and polite, even when shoppers are being frugal or “just browsing,” could make a difference in how much money you pull in this year.