When bad weather affects shopping

Retail expert Bob Phibbs, known as the Retail Doctor, cautions that severe winter storms could affect shopping, such as the recent snowstorm that hit the east coast. “While this is not welcome news, it is not the end of the world either,” he says. As the author of You Can Compete: Double Sales Without Discounting, he consults for some of the largest brands in the country including Yamaha, Hunter Douglas, LEGO and Brother.

It’s just two days before Christmas, but cities have a vested interest in keeping streets clear of the white stuff, especially when reports indicate that local sales are up, Bob says.

What to do when severe winter weather hits? Here’s the Retail Doctor’s advice:

*Keep your customers informed by updating all of your social media sites with the hours you will be open.

*Do everything possible to keep your store open.  If anyone can be out shopping, you should be at your store, lights on, sidewalk and parking spaces in front of your store cleared.

*Stay open later hours to ease the shopping experience for customers who are delayed by the storms.

*Help your customers enjoy the “White Christmas” aspect of the shopping experience.  Bob says, “And don’t forget, the guys are the last to shop – they’ll still be the ones you’ll see in the next few days ready to splurge.”

If history is any guide, weather can devastate shopping if snow removal is not taken seriously. Bob remembers that the holiday blizzard of 2008 in Portland, OR shut down the city – he says the mayor decided to avoid plowing the streets due to cost constraints, which weakened sales for thousands of businesses …  for over two weeks.

Bob Phibbs helps hundreds of businesses in every major industry, including hospitality, manufacturing, service, restaurant and retail.  He is a nationally recognized retail expert on business strategy, customer service, sales and marketing.  With over 30 years experience, he has been a corporate officer, franchisor and entrepreneur.  His new book, The Retail Doctor’s Guide To Growing Your Business is available from Wiley in April.

-Janet Muniz

winter photo credit: laffy4k

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