It's not just Covid; sometimes up IS down | Check out the new ways customers move around your stores. Free! | Tick tock, tick tock. Time to get your 2022 profit plan done 
Monday, January 17, 2022

From The Co-Founders

Patricia M. Johnson & Richard F. Outcalt
Outcalt & Johnson: Retail Strategists, LLC  •  Retail Turnaround Experts

When Up Is Down. (Yes, we can explain)

You've no doubt seen the headlines. "Retail sales slumped in December." 

Sounds pretty grim, doesn't it? Did all those foreboding warnings of supply chain issues, inventory shortages, etcetera actually come true?
  • Keep in mind that the folks trumpeting those slumping sales results are comparing each month's retail sales to the previous month. Sure enough, on that basis it is true that retail sales in December were almost 2% less than they were in November.
  • However, if you examine the same numbers the way that retailers do – that is, comparing to the same month the prior year – we see a very different story. Take a look at the sales results for December 2021 vs December 2020. 
Monthly Retail Sales Trends December YoY
Pretty interesting chart, isn't it? In fact, overall December's 2021 retail sales were 16.9% better than 2020. What sales slump?! look at the Monthly Retail Sales trend charts on The ROI site. These quickly show how the trailing six month's retail sales compare to the same months the prior year.  

See? For virtually all sectors, while December 2021 sales were up smartly, November 2021 sales were up even more than December's versus 2020. Hence the headlines, "retail sales are trending down."

In other words, it is true. Sometimes up IS down.

We know that we cannot change the ways that economists and pundits talk about retail sales results. But we will keep posting these trend charts each month, so that retailers can easily compare their own stores monthly sales trends to their retail sector. 

Especially in these times, we must do all we can to keep some perspective. 
Monthly Retail Sales Trend Charts
Want more of the strategic retailing observations from Outcalt and Johnson?  Prior commentary From The Co-Founders  is available under PERSPECTIVES on The ROI site.  ➡️

How to "See" Your In-Store Traffic Patterns - Free!

Here's an FYI for you: all retailers have a powerful tool for understanding in-store traffic flows. It's available in the palm of your hand. 

Yes, your smart phone can become your very own in-store spy in the sky. No drones or beacons or other tracking systems needed!  

Here's how it works:
  • With your camera phone set to video mode/time lapse, it automatically snaps the shutter at whatever time interval you set.
  • Then, when you watch the video, it has condensed the action that occurred over hours into minutes.
  • And best of all, it can be FREE!  Just look on your phone (or tablet!). If it's not built in, search for "time lapse" on your app store.

Your Own In-Store "Traffic Copter"

We can think of lots of ways for retailers to take advantage of this "in-store traffic copter."
  • Which way do people turn when they come into our store?
  • Do folks hesitate once inside, not knowing where to go?
  • Which displays attract customers?
  • Which ones do they seem to disregard?
  • How many shoppers actually get to the back of our store?
  • And, this one is fun: how often do we see our sales staff actually moving away from the cash wrap??
Pictures ARE worth a thousand words

These time lapse sequences can highlight all kinds of opportunities in your store. Plus, they can help you recognize any trouble spots.

Then, after you've made some adjustments, do another time lapse study to see whether that helped! What difference did it make?

It's free. It's fun. And it's a great way to involve your staff as well.  

Just check on your smart phone's video functions, or any of the app stores for "time lapse". 

Key Retail & Restaurant Benchmarks for 56 Verticals

How do your stores compare?


Go here on The ROI site to find the link to the page for your retail or restaurant vertical.

Once on that page, scroll down to see the charts. Click on each image to enlarge it. 

Have questions? Want to know more? Take advantage of the Retail Benchmarks Resource Center at The ROI. It's free for everyone to use. 

This is the year to get and keep perspective.

Psst! Get a Sneak Peek at Your 2022 Profits

In this lively TOPICAL TUESDAYS Webinar of the Week, Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt, Co-Founders of The ROI, show how any retailer, anywhere, on your own, can know in advance whether you are likely to be profitable.

After all, why work that hard all year, only to end up with a loss? Here's how savvy retailers can look ahead to avoid losses:
  • Step away from the to-the-penny details of your P&L. Cluster those dozens of separate line items into useful management categories.
  • See how - and why - Cost of Goods Sold affects profit.
  • See how to determine your best guesstimates for sales, margins, and expenses. (Close counts!)
  • See how The ROI's online PROFITS Forecaster (one of The ROI's proprietary projecting calculators for retailers) lets you do your own "What would happen if I...?" projections – and on-going adjustments – in just minutes. Anytime you want, 24/7.
  • Even better, with its built-in TREND TRACKER, you can easily monitor your progress each month.
Ready to put your business on track for a profitable year? Be sure to take advantage of this empowering session.  
FREE Access • Webinar of the Week
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