I’ve never been very sympathetic with people who whinge about their fate. I’m especially unsympathetic with today’s retailers. In the last days leading up to Christmas I heard nothing but the bleating of bleeding hearts and the sad decline of Christmas sales. This, from a bunch of users who have managed to achieve something that few other industries have ever achieved – ‘the prostitution of a market’s prime buying time’. Yes, that’s right retailers, you did it all on your own.

You began many years ago by discounting Christmas. A time when people WANTED to buy and through your own greed you wanted it all, so you discounted and catalogued your way to death, not with loss leaders but with prime products at a highly reduced cost. Imagine a new car release which greets its potential buyers with a discount on the first day? Unthinkable!

Not content with that – the destruction obviously wasn’t severe enough so what clever stratagem did your marketing ‘thoroughbreds’ adopt? Well it was nothing short of brilliant. You gave us ‘ The Boxing Day Sale’! Tell me, what self respecting consumer is not going to wait until Boxing Day to get 50% off? Good ploy guys now the consumers will wait and pay less creating less profit. The store strategists may have gone out to lunch but the consumer remains as sharp as the shrill song of the singing fat lady and if she’s not ready to warble yet, she’s not far away from a yodel.

Now I’m all in favour of giving the punters a fair go. One should be generous at Christmas, but please, please Mr Retailer stop the bleating. You have no one else to blame but yourselves, get a grip for heaven’s sake.

The first thing you need to understand is that ‘discounting’ is a fatal disease – catch it and there’s no way back. I’m not saying don’t have ‘Sales’ but do you have to be predictable? Do you have to send the message out that you are idiots? I’m sorry to be blunt but if you keep developing ludicrous strategies which damage your credibility and reputation don’t expect anything else but a ludicrous result and the inevitable conclusion.

Stop following each other into eternal damnation, find new inventive ways. Turn shopping into an experience, learn to understand service the way the consumer sees it and offer differentials that mean something.
If you want my sympathy and the rest of society’s support, get your tactics right not just for the consumer but for yourselves.