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Everywhere you turn you hear about the new economic reality. Things are tough, they say; business is bad, they say.

The danger we face while taking in all of this bad news is that we may actually begin to focus on nothing but the bad news. We may start to believe it completely. When we believe completely, there is a much higher chance of it being so.

It would be unreasonable and irresponsible to claim that the current downturn in the economy will not have any negative effect on retailers. Clearly, that is already happening and it is very unfortunate. However, it doesn’t have to be the case for all retailers. Some will even thrive during this time by being better than they have ever been; by gaining market share that has been left up for grabs by retailers who are closing their doors and, hopefully, by learning from others mistakes and misfortunes.

There is an old saying that says “change your conversation, change your life”. We would be wise to think hard about this right now. Shall we buy in to all of the doom and gloom that is being discussed all around us or shall we change the conversation to focus on the positives? And, frankly, is there really any choice? There is absolutely nothing to be gained by focusing on the negative. Certainly, we should take some precautions and ensure all of our processes and practices are fine tuned but we must be very careful not to hurt our business by pulling so tightly on the reins that we put the business in jeopardy.

For example, a knee jerk reaction by many retailers has been to arbitrarily reduce store level employee wages and allowable hours as their very first attempt at expense reduction. When not done properly and selectively, which it almost never is, it will create employee dissatisfaction, excessive turnover, badly maintained stores, poor customer service and, of course, the inevitable - customer dissatisfaction. Not really the intention, right?

To be sure, these times require solid management practices and well thought out strategies; all executed by well equipped, highly effective management teams. Expenses will have to be watched and controlled very closely; inventory will have to be managed more closely than ever before and each and every customer will have to be treated to the very finest service your stores have to offer.

So, be aware and be prudent, but don’t let your organization go into the downward spiral that is created by too much conversation about a ‘bad’ economy. A lot of wealthy people made a lot of their money during the Great Depression.


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