With Boxing Day sales reported to have flopped as we reported here yesterday
Today we at the Euro Weekly News in Spain investigated further to find out what’s caused this and what’s the major reason and how bad is the situation really, we sent in an undercover reporter to retails parks to find out as he questioned both staff and owners.
Our reporters port of call was Cribbs Causeway retail park in Bristol one of the most successful retail parks and shopping malls in England with Bristol being the 4th largest city in the UK.
Our reporter Tom first headed into well known Harveys furniture store this morning, which was few on numbers of visitors, Tom spoke to the salesman on duty and asked ” Quiet in here isn’t it? I thought it would be busy – haven’t you got a sale on?”
The salesman looked quite depressed and said ” We do have a sale on, but it doesn’t seem to be attracting the footfall, and those coming in are asking for further discounts! – I have asked them why they think they need an extra discount and they often refer to Brexit and fear what’s going to happen after the 31st”
” Our Company has been just bought out from the Steinhoff group and many things have changed since then so I’m not sure if that’s had a knock on effect or not, but looking out across the car parks there’s still a lot of empty spaces out there when this time of year it’s normally hard to park”.
SCS sofa store was next for Tom, again coming across what you would not call a packed store at all, although the shop floor was littered with redundant looking salesman looking for a customer to get their teeth into. Tom spoke to a customer firstly who was trying out a sofa and footstool on display who said ” I came in early thinking there would be a rush after seeing all the sale adverts on the tv but it’s hardly packed is it?” she said.
” Mind you I think these prices are the same as what was on in November – I can’t see any difference, I have questioned a salesman and he said it was the lowest price ever it’s been and he said because the Company is trying to make extra sales due to a downturn due to Brexit fears, it’s a load of cods wallop if you ask me!”
” I think personally they just make the sales up and us the customers have worked it out” She said.
When Tom got approached by an eager salesperson in the same store he said to the salesman ” I need a real good deal, Brexit is coming up” to which the salesperson replied ” Not you as well! – everyone is saying the same thing, but look at our prices, they are the lowest ever, we know Brexit is affecting our footfall this year so we have smashed the margins and nows the time to buy”
Tom replied ” well it doesn’t seem to be working then judging by the amount of people in here” to which the reply came ” it’s early today being a weekend but I must admit sales are down since Boxing Day when we reopened so I could do with a sale if you are interested”
Tom next went into Costa Coffee and sat down with a member of staff from a retail park operation that has over 100 stores across the UK but the staff member didn’t want her to the company to be named as she feared for her job with what she was about to tell Tom.
she said ” All year it’s been really tough going, the Company figures are well down on last year and Brexit uncertainty is the main cause, both customers and company bosses say that, although we are the worst off as they changed the commission structure and set targets higher, if we now don’t hit 100% target then we only get now .5% commission on our overall sales, where as before it averaged 3% per sale. You can work all month, miss target and be lucky to take home an extra 100 pounds when as before it could be 2 to 3k difference, it’s unfair and loads are leaving the company over it, we don’t get paid overtime, we’ve had our commission slashed and are basically working on our basic which is 18k a year and that includes both Saturdays and Sundays every weekend, it was worth it when you got your commission but the change has put paid to that, targets just get set so high now so the company I believe cover the loses in foot flow but cutting our earning potential. You can have two great weeks but as we now don’t get a decent month of foot flow all through, you lose out in the final two weeks” she said.
” This time of year is when you should make your money in retail commissions – it’s known as “peak” but there is no peak the whole store only took 9k yesterday compared to last years 65k, Boxing Day was a little better at 19k but the year before we did 70k, whilst our target was 30k yesterday and 40k Boxing Day so we are miles behind already and today’s been a terrible start as well, it’s been the same pattern all across the Country apparently our regional managers are saying, we question where the customers are and the regionals just say ” Brexit” I know they are under pressure as they are stressed out, shouting at store managers who then just shout at us, but its not our fault” she ended with.
Clearly there’s going to a retail park crisis according to retail analyst Mark Hotson who told the Euro Weekly News after we informed him of our findings and comments, Mark said: ” These big operations are going to have serious issues, we’ve already seen this year many go like Mothercare, with many others in trouble, people say it’s the internet but in the case of the big item stores it not, Brexit is the man factor killing these stores figures right now – these stores have been on sale all year due to Brexit downturn and so the consumers are seeing no difference in sale prices so no urgency to spend.”
” Brexit has many things to answer for” Mark said. These large stores have huge overheads, a standard unit on Cribbs Causeway has a rental in the region of 600k a year with a rates bill around 300/400k annually, they won’t survive unless trade turns.
Sales of course are different here in Spain where they don’t really start until after Three Kings but British owned companies who are pushing standard festive sales on the retail parks are stating the same objections, we spoke to a salesperson who said ” quite simply it’s flat right now, our customers are mainly Brits and they don’t want to buy until they see what happens with Brexit”