It was with some trepidation that we entered the Christmas trading period in 2008. At American Pie we were determined to stick to our strategy, which was no discounting before Christmas, not opening on the bank holidays and focusing on our key strengths.
Our strengths are, I believe, our excellent customer service and offering people a mix of their favourite things sand surprise items not available elsewhere. I worked in store every
day, making sure everyone who came in was welcomed and made to feel valued.
Staff bent over backwards to meet every request, which involved spending evenings moving
stock around from store to store, making personal deliveries and ensuring that we kept to our one-hour tailoring promise. On top of this, there were internet orders to fulfil overnight.
Over the period, American Pie was helped, I believe, by the large stores going into the Sale early. By doing this they have devalued their offering. Piling up goods as you would at a jumble sale just makes them look unappealing to the customer.
This, coupled with the apparent removal of all floor staff, has driven customers to our door. They are grateful for a sit down while someone else finds exactly what they want and gift wraps it too. And they are more than happy to pay full price just for the relief.
So in 2009 American Pie will continue with its own way of doing things, and hope that the big players do too so we and our fellow independents can pick up customers at their expense. I wish you a happy and prosperous 2009 – and stick to your guns.
Bashir Mohammed is the owner of independent designer fashion business American Pie