A key issue facing footwear retailers is how to deal with price rises due to the fluctuations in the pound/euro rates and the effect of the dollar on Chinese and Far East manufacturing costs.
Product ordered last year has gone up in cost, in some cases by almost 50%. Can retailers expect the consumer to bear all the cost, or should they swallow a cut in their profit margins? This is down to individual retailers and suppliers to tussle with. However, although it will take a while for the public to adjust to the inevitable rise in prices, in the long term I believe it will have a positive effect on the market.
I have always had a problem with footwear being sold like tins of beans. While I accept there are myriad ways to sell product and each is to be respected, the
difficulty is that the cheaper end of the market has done such a good job that the consumer has come to expect £10 for a pair of canvas pumps, for example, to be the norm.
A return to more realistic prices for product will elevate footwear, and clothing, to their rightful place in the market. If it takes a shift in the price structure to achieve this, then so be it. The key to successful trading lies in the product and its presentation, not just price.
A return to old-school retailing and service is long overdue. Talking of putting the customer first, how many shops opened when London was snowbound? Is it a sign of the times that in some cases people used the bad weather as an excuse for a day off? At Bullfrogs we insisted that where possible, staff made their way to work.
We opened all four shops and had the best Monday’s takings in years. We had a duty to open and we did - a classic example of old-school retailing.
- Michael Ashison co-owns footwear and clothing business Bullfrogs in London