Tanya Marriott is owner of footwear retailer Solelution, which has two stores in Portishead and Clifton in Somerset.
As a small independent retailer, we are facing difficult decisions every day, particularly when the big multiples seem to be driven by sales targets and often go into Sale early. Do we follow? Do we take part in Black Friday? How do we stand out?
It is very easy to be directed by what is going on around us and feel that we have no choice. However, as independents, we need to make margin to survive, as this is what pays the bills.
With regards to discounting, rule one for us is to avoid it unless we are in our Sale periods. These tend to run from Christmas Eve until mid-February for our winter Sale and the end of July until early September for summer.
Rule two is to discount only by what I think we need to in order to clear the product initially. We always have a final reductions period towards the end of the Sale if we need to shift it for less.
Rule three is to only put product in the Sale that we think customers will not buy at full price. In my mind, there is no logic putting winter boots in the Sale in December, when the coldest months are January and February. We often wait till mid-January to see what the weather looks like before we discount - something that has definitely paid off this week.
I appreciate that we are lucky to be in local high streets without any multiples, so we are not quite as led by their actions as others might be, but, more importantly, we focus on what our business is good at.
Our customers come to us because they like what we offer, they like the service we provide and, in a way, we have coached them so they know we only go into Sale at certain times. They have the choice to buy when they see the product during the season and wear it immediately, or take a risk that it might not be there if they wait until the Sale.
I appreciate that what works for us may not work for others, but at Solelution autumn 14 has been another great season.