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Digging through the Sale signs and snow

John Reid

The past month has been one of the most stressful of my life. I didn’t think running a business would be anything less, but a December that seemed to resemble climate change disaster film The Day After Tomorrow was certainly a test of mental strength.

The past month has been one of the most stressful of my life. I didn’t think running a business would be anything less, but a December that seemed to resemble climate change disaster film The Day After Tomorrow was certainly a test of mental strength. Bristol was less affected by the snow than other UK cities, but the surrounding areas were not so lucky and as a new store we were vulnerable.

We had a small existing customer base and a standing start online. We also have commitments for stock next season, the majority of which need to be paid up front. We needed to hit a certain level of sales and, as the weather held people back and a red sea of Sale signs engulfed the high street, I began to grow very nervy.

I have very strong views on in-season discounting. All it does is create a cycle which worsens year by year - people expect retailers to go into Sale early and more and more of them hold out for it.

But when the press is declaring retail Armageddon and the snow is falling continuously, it takes a lot to hold your nerve.

Still, I believed people would come in the end because we had product that people wanted for Christmas. They did and though it was late it started off a fantastic 10 days or so that carried on throughout Sale up until New Year’s Eve. We were also surprised to see our online store performing so well in December. I’d been targeting one online transaction a day after the first three months, but we’ve easily beaten that figure and the extra revenue from this channel has been very important to us.

The next 12 months are so crucial for us but I have strong belief in what we are doing, and the past two weeks have given us all a massive confidence boost.

John Reid is managing director of new premium indie Garment Quarter in Bristol. He is charting his store’s progress for Drapers throughout 2011

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