It is a tough time to be a retailer – and this week it may just have got tougher still. Whatever way you lean on leave verses remain, no one can deny that that uncertainty around the failure to ‘Brexit’ has had a tangible impact on retailers. Now, the election called to break that deadlock could well give the industry another kick while it is struggling.
The timing of an election in the middle of peak – and by dint of that, a campaign that will overshadow the run up to Black Friday and beyond – could well cause even more impact on retail than has thus been seen. The election is one of the most uncertain of outcome we have experienced for many years and, based on previous form, quite easily could deliver a hung Parliament.
Or a new referendum.
Or a no-deal exit.
Or another election.
The problem is that nothing is certain and you can bet it is going to be a messy fight.
All this around Christmas is a nightmare. For starter, it makes marketing really difficult as the air waves – not to mention consumers’ head space – is going to be full of electioneering. It also continues the uncertainty of outcome, which will see shoppers perhaps gripping their wallets tightly, fearing whatever outcome they may be facing.
We have already seen this week that UK retailers are, by their own admission, woefully unprepared for Brexit – in whatever form it may take. The election only adds to that pressure.
But are there ways to leverage the situation, to tame the chaos? Some marketers believe that it could be possible to use the election of retailer advantage, looking to add much needed levity to the situation or adding messaging that can help extract, albeit briefly, from the political mudslinging.
The one thing that is clear is that the winners will be the retailers that can marketing in context and offer more than just the ‘deals deals deals’ marketing and that can tap into both the need to save money and to have a lovely festive time – despite politics.
The one thing that is certain in these uncertain times is that nothing is the same any more. The same can be seen in the travails of the High Street. A study out this week also points out that, while there has been huge economic pressure on High Street retailers, their single-minded stance of ignoring changing customer habits and the need for better service, have made a heft contribution to the problems they now face.
Like Brexit and the election, this too shows just how changed the world is and how, failing to change alongside it as a business is costly.
While things are tough out there, there are opportunities and while things may not be like anything any one in retail has experienced before, that doesn’t mean it is bad. Time to embrace the change, tame the chaos and move forward.