What recession? How to increase sales in a bad economy

3 min read ·


Even with the economy looking grim, it’s possible to boost retail sales with the right techniques.

Experts say retail sales are on the rise again, despite the poor economy, but even if you aren’t seeing that as an overall trend, rest assured that you can increase your sales with a few proven techniques.

First, you should realize that the economy doesn’t necessarily dictate how well your business does. What we see on the news is not always completely accurate and even when the economy is at its worst, some businesses still thrive. Yours could be one of them, if you know what you’re doing.

1. Get Online

Online sales continue to go up as people find themselves searching for deals further afield, so it would be a mistake to discount this as an option for your business. Your products could do very well online, or they may not, but it is still an extra outlet for sales. There are several choices for selling online:

  • Set up your own website
  • Sell on an existing site, such as Amazon
  • Sell through classifieds, such as Craigslist

Even if this doesn’t drastically increase sales, it does mean sales that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

2. Pick a Great Location

Location is always important when it comes to retail stores, so make sure you are located where your target audience can find you easily. Most people won’t drive out of their way and are far more reluctant to walk even a couple of blocks just to reach your store. Placing your product in front of them where they are going to be anyway is the best method of getting more sales.

Malls are excellent locations for many retail stores because they already attract shoppers who are more likely to come into your store on a whim. This can increase sales, but be sure you understand the rules of the mall or shopping center before signing up, since they can be very strict.

3. Watch the Trends

Trends can be dangerous if they mean you are constantly moving from one to another and always end up with extra inventory that no one wants because the trend faded as fast as it started. However, if you pick the right one, you can stand to make some good money. Over time, you will learn how to spot trends that are going to stick around for a while and adding a new product line can help your store make a bit more money.

4. Stand Out

Can your products be found in 50 other stores across town? Then you’re going to have to really stand out. When you are the only retail store to carry a certain product, people are forced to come to you if they need it, but anything else and you’ll have to really make an effort to be different enough that everyone will want to buy that product from you.

You can use any manner of techniques to stand out in the retail world. A themed store works well, but can alienate some people, or you might try offering a gimmick such as a frequent shopper card to encourage repeat customers.

5. Hire Terrific Employees

Your employees will make a huge difference in whether the store sinks or swims. When employees are kind and helpful to those who come into the store, it’s easy to get return customers. People will enjoy shopping when they are treated well, but many will avoid a store where the employees are surly and grumpy.

While much of your success lies in hiring the right people for the job, remember that employees tend to treat customers the way they are treated by their boss. So, if you strive to maintain a pleasant working environment for your employees and offer them benefits, your customers will benefit from better customer service.

6. Stay on Top of Inventory

Every business has some loss due to theft, either from their own employees or from people coming into the store to steal. To avoid losing money, most companies boost prices slightly to make up for the inevitable. However, you should also keep very close track of inventory, as this can help you identify when employees are doing the stealing. You will also tend to recognize patterns which can help you identify trouble areas. If a certain area of your store is prone to shoplifting, consider placing larger, harder to conceal items there, or extra security. You may also want to rearrange the product displays so the clerk has a full view of the store from the counter.

7. Offer Sales and Discounts

Customers are always looking for good deals, but this is never truer than when you are in the middle of an economic depression. You’ll find that offering sales on a regular basis is an excellent way to get people in the door. It can also help you get rid of merchandise that is taking up space and not selling well, since it may sell better at a lower price.

Another advantage of sales is that many people will come in for the sale, but end up buying other products, as well. Make sure you promote your sales and discounts to bring in new customers who could rapidly become repeat clients.