“We are in a whole new world, we should be buying now and instead of excitement to see my suppliers and colleagues I see and feel fear, upset, anger, disappointment and isolation” says Ellie
“We are juggling brides who are hysterical and emotional and instead of fitting their dresses for April and June Weddings we are packing them up for collections. So much has happened so fast.
Logic is forcing me to consider where I am on the change cycle because that’s what I do in a crisis. (Old habits die-hard)
- Shock and disbelief at what I see.
- Doubt that things are happening.
- Discomfort with change.
- Acceptance that it’s happening.
- Understanding what needs to happen next.
- Energized and ready to move forward.
It’s taken me three weeks to get to stage 5 and I know I am ahead of my family and most of my team with that. I have been through 1-4 and I do feel ready for the next challenge and I don’t mean working from home.
The next challenge I believe we face is the impact of self-isolation and social distancing. This will impact on us all mentally but it will have a huge impact on our behavior for the future. Our purchasing behavior will change as new habits are formed. Our socializing behavior will also change; I am praying here that this is the end of a Bride tribe average of 8. Lets hope for a return to close and exclusive appointments. Things could have just changed forever.
However Amazon continues to take over the world and we watch as the high street crumbles, good-bye Laura Ashley.
I fear for Bridal Retailing in that change is coming like it or not.
I still believe that our industry will always be represented on the High street, as people will always want an emotional connection with the product we sell, but we may find it has lessened. We may find people want smaller more private weddings, we simply don’t know and only time will tell as things change again over the weeks ahead.
What we do know is that around this time of year we are usually enjoying one of the busier periods in our sales calendar. The money is coming in and we are planning our expenditure for the year ahead. New stock is at the top of this list for all of us. New stock is what keeps the wheels going round and the brides coming in.
My fear is that a lack of trade will leave an enormous hole in everyone’s cash flow.
Retailers are already talking about NOT BUYING this year as a plan to hold it together, I know I wont have anywhere near what I usually have.
That in turn means our suppliers will not receive anywhere near the orders they usually bank on to keep their business going. This will no doubt be worse for those suppliers whose business model relies purely on selling samples.
Buying right now is not on most retailers’ agenda.
Selling Samples right now is the key priority of all suppliers.
We have reached a terrible impasse.
We need to establish how we can stand together
We need to preserve our industry.
This is not a time for Gas lighting and for suppliers to be saying, “ oh, your competitor wants this label” OR “flossie Bridal just ordered 12 why cant you”
This is not about mind games; it’s about working together.
- Retailers are all too aware that our suppliers need sample sales to keep them in business and I can imagine how worried they must feel right now.
- The same retailers know that suppliers need loyalty and deep purchasing in order to represent a label correctly.
- We retailers also know that if we don’t have the new stock we are DEAD in the water come this autumn.
So what’s the solution to buying sample stock with no or limited funds?
- Charging cost for samples. If we don’t have them we cant sell them.
- Extended Credit terms for reputable and reliable boutiques.
- Charging for the sample once the first order is taken.
- Buy one get one free
I know most suppliers will be laughing at me for saying that or spitting their tea out. BUT – these are unprecedented times and this will take unprecedented measures to keep us all moving forward.
If we can’t agree a united plan, we will see shops close, suppliers close and our wonderful industry will not exist as it does today.
Lets open up the dialogue, let’s unite and see what we can achieve.
Above all this though, lets stay healthy and focus on No.6
Lets be energized and ready to move forward into a whole new world”