Recently there have been some high profile closures of some large retail names and reports of yet others getting into serious difficulties. There are lots of reasons companies get into problems and I am sure that for some of these undertakings there may have been management issues but the main cause is being put down to a failure to respond to, or at least being slow to respond to, changes in their customers’ shopping habits.
There are two main reasons usually given. One is the percieved switch to on line shopping. This could obviously effect us. However with on line shopping, the customer is normally just buying a product they have seen elsewhere and that does not require any forethought. With us it is a little different. We sell some quite specialist products that need an expert to explain the choices available to the customer and in the case of animals we do not sell these on line at all, as we do not believe anyone should buy an animal they have not seen before. Also we are not comfortable couriering animals to people we have never met as we feel we have a responsibility to the animal. Obviously not everything we sell needs this level of support and so we do have an on line web store as well, for the convenience of our more distant customers and so people can see what we stock.
The other reason given is a bit of a more recent change but is having a huge effect on everyone from superstores and supermarkets to any chain with a mainly out of town presence. Customers are shifting to smaller, more local shopping trips instead of large weekly or monthly expeditions to the out of town complexes. Shops like Toys R Us, Maplin, Countrywide have all now gone or are in serious trouble as well as a lot of restaurant chains that tend to inhabit these out of town retail parks.
This change is also effecting our section of the industry. In the past the trend has been away from local pet shops to larger chains on retail parks. This is changing. Customers are starting to recognise the convenience of a local store and the better levels of service and advice they can get. In our case we are actually more competitive on price as well. For customers it is starting to become a bit of a no brainer. Why travel a few miles to a faceless chainstore, staffed in the main by retail assistants with nothing more than a basic level of knowledge of the pets they are selling and the products they need and then to pay more for the privilege as well!
So it was nice timing for us to have moved away from the Quays area, with its over priced shops and poor parking, to a local precinct with ample free parking, close to our main customer base but with good links to further afield. Of course you could always drive all the way out to a pet supermarket if you want but why pay more?
The Angell Pets Team