Creating Excitement in a Flat Market

Creating Excitement in a Flat Market

By Matt Pruitt

It’s pretty obvious now that we are at the end of a very long period of retail growth and we expect sales to be flat for some time. This doesn’t mean that the economy is doing poorly, or that consumers can’t be convinced to spend. We’re just at a natural dip in the current retail cycle. So, given the situation, how can you stay positive?

The first thing you need to realize is that consumers do have money in their bank accounts and the capacity to spend because the fundamentals of our economy are still strong. And, retailers that make the right moves will see double-digit increases even amid the slowdown. The key to making this happen is exciting your customers with new products and new concepts.

Here’s an insider tip. You’ve probably heard us say to hold back 20% of your open-to-buy for in-season purchases so you can take advantage of demand for new seasonal goods. We still strongly suggest you do this, but instead of using that 20% to buy from your usual vendors, we want you to bring in something new. New vendors probably approach you all the time, but you don’t have the money to take a chance on them. Well, in this flat environment you need the newness and here is a smart financial way to go about it.

Get these new vendors to do a pop-up show in your store. This means you will be putting on an exciting event that gives you an excuse to call your customers. And, here’s the key: during these pop-up shows you only have to pay for the goods that are sold. So, you will be making very smart use of the OTB you held back for in-season.

By the way, if you’re wondering what a pop-up show is, it’s basically a trunk show, without the tired, old-fashioned wording. In fact, you should stop hosting trunk shows altogether and only host “pop-up shops” that offer new concepts and a festive atmosphere.

This is a great opportunity for you to try new vendors and drive sales with little financial risk.

If you have more questions on how this could work for your store, just give me a call.

Matt Pruitt is a retail consultant and data analyst at Blacks Retail. His expertise in vendor performance, point-of-sale analytics, and growth strategies has helped clients achieve and exceed their goals. He studied Business Management and Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Contact him at or call (781) 325-6751.