No More 9-5: Keeping Pace with Today’s Customer

With the rise in two income and single parent households, consumers increasingly shop in the evening and on weekends.

“Many—if not most—consumers do not have time to shop during the
traditional store hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.,” Arthur Andersen noted in his book,
Small Store Survival.

Sunday is becoming one of the busiest shopping days, says Gibbs Planning Group, a development company in Birmingham that specializes in planning for downtowns and retail centers. “Many retailers have the same amount of sales in four to five hours on Sunday as in eight to nine hours on Saturday,” he said.

Convenience is key for today’s consumer. But extending store hours is difficult for most small retailers because of their small staff

Here are some Ideas for Maximizing the Hours you are open:

  1. Poll customers and noncustomers to find out when they want to shop.
  2. Consider closing during your slowest hours or days and extending evening and weekend hours. Tuesday and Wednesday are typically the slowest days for small retailers, according to Small Store Survival.
  3. Advertise any change in your hours well ahead of time so current customers can adjust and potential customers will be aware.
  4. Reassess your new hours after several weeks or months to see if they are profitable.
  5. Coordinate hours with other downtown retailers. For instance, several stores could stay open late one evening.
  6. Hold special sales, workshops or trunk shows in the evenings or on weekends.

All for One, One for All: Business Referrals

Knowing what products and services are offered by neighboring businesses is vital to maintaining a strong downtown retail environment. Customer satisfaction is key!

Scenario #1
A customer walks into your shop and asks if you carry Easton items, like T-shirts and gifts. You reply, “No, we don’t.” She then asks if you know where else she could find Easton products. You reply, “No, I’m sorry, I really don’t know.”

Result: The customer leaves the downtown shopping district without accomplishing her task. She most likely heads to a mall or pursues online shopping for the rest of her shopping wishes. The message she received? “Downtown easton doesn’t have what I need.”

This scenario may sound simplistic, but in today’s fast paced world, consumers don’t have time to waste. Providing a positive shopping experience is the key to building customer loyalty throughout the downtown.

Check out Scenario #2:
A customer walks into your shop and asks if you carry Easton items, like T-shirt and gifts. You reply, “No, I’m sorry we don’t, but I know Mercantile Home does.” You then proceed to offer her directions to Mercan tile Home. The customer thanks you and vows to return another day.

Result: The customer makes her purchase at Mercantil Home and leaves downtown Easton with a feeling of satisfaction, knowing that she succeeded in accomplishing her task. The message that she received? “Downtown Easton has what I need. Merchants are helpful and pleasant.

Take the time to explore your neighboring businesses: stop in their businesses, or go to their websites. The time you spend will be well worth your while.

Consider doing Joint Promotions with other downtown businesses!

Need Ideas? Call Main Street: 610-330-9940