By Angelo Ponzi, Co-Founder Board-Trac, Inc.
“Don’t look back unless you plan on going there,” is one of my friend’s favorite sayings. I always liked, “Things look clearer in the rearview mirror.” Bon Jovi. And, let’s not forget, “hindsight is 20-20 or the glass is half full, not half empty.”
Looking back on this past year, we have certainly seen many changes in the action sports industry, both internally and externally that have had an impact on business. Given all of these changes, I could focus this article on the impact that they have had on the overall industry, I’d like to focus on some positive nuggets and get us all looking forward again.
According to the specialty retailers that participated in our Q3 2010 Board-Trac/Board Retailers Association Quarterly Specialty Retail Survey, 62.3% indicated that they were either on plan or exceeded their planned forecast through the end of Q3.
This is an 8.4% increase among retailers from the same quarter (Q3 09) last year. What’s exciting about that is the percentage of retailers reporting that they were under forecast by 10+% or more, decreased by 8%. Those on plan increased by 6%, and those exceeding plan by 10% increased 4.6%. These results followed the trend of the positive growth we’ve seen since we began tracking in Q1 2008. Overall, there has been a 42.7% increase in the number of retailers reporting that sales were up over the previous year. Also of note is that in Q1 2009 only 18.5% of our participating retailers reported sales were up Q1 ‘09 compared to sales of Q1 ‘08. In our latest survey, Q3 2010, 50% reported that comp sales were up over the previous year. We’ve come a long way, baby!
This of course has had an impact on margins as well. Almost forty-one percent (41.1%) of the retailers reported increased margins, while 29.4% reported a decrease in their margins.
Here’s where that rearview mirror concept comes in. One of the best ways to help you figure out strategies for the future is to look at the past. Ask yourself, among those retailers that were increasing their sales and having various degrees of success, what external influences existed and what did those retailers do to help increase their sales throughout the year?
While we are certainly not offering any crystal ball, eight-ball or a definitive solution, you need to examine what the retailers that had increases in sales implemented to help determine your strategies for 2011.
In the chart below, you can see that during the seven quarters represented, better customer service (you can also combine better employee training here as well), better mix of existing brands carried and carrying exclusive brands were three key areas retailers focused on to help improve their sales and most likely a way to differentiate themselves from their competitors. Note: percentages represent the number of retailers that indicated they implemented the strategy/tactics and should not be added together.
Riding Positive Trends Continued…