It seems increasingly likely that next year we will be in a recession. This will be the fourth recession that my business has traded through, so while I am naturally thoughtful about what 2009 will bring, I am confident that we will manage to get through it.
As an old hand, I can offer some insight into what retailers and suppliers should do in order to come through a recession intact.
When people have less money to spend, you have to offer them something extra special to get them to part with their cash. We will therefore be making even more of an effort to source new labels and exclusive items, rather than just cutting back on visiting shows and sticking to what we know.
We will not be reducing our forward ordering. While in principle short order seems like the answer, it is often impossible to buy the best items and you can be left with other people’s returned goods. On top of this, most suppliers simply cannot finance a short-order business and the stock holding it requires.
Some suppliers are clearly nervous already, judging by the calls I am getting along the lines of “we’d just like to check that you have our invoice”. This is highly irritating for a business with 33 years’ history of paying promptly, but I suppose it is understandable at the moment.
In 2009, I believe we all have to be brave and continue to focus on our customers and our business. If you reduce your stock levels, buy only what you can get hold of at the last minute, and stick to the same brands and designs that you offered last year, then I can guarantee that your sales will decline and you will have created a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Bashir Mohammed is the owner of independent designer fashion business American Pie