By Fareeha Qayoom
There might be sales galore in this town but there is no fun in retail therapy – the merchandise across the board looks tired, boring and unattractive – be it shoes, bags, apparel or home furnishings.
(Area surveyed – DHA Y Market and H market)
Less is more
Majority of retailers don’t seem to have a clue. There is merchandise and there is merchandise. The stores seem to be empty of foot traffic even though there is a sale on “up to 70 percent off” and “50 percent on selected stock” all over the place.
The only exception: Next Sales – their product got cleared so fast that they have been forced to put up their last year’s left over summer stock. Also, they are totally out of some items like socks, belts, sneakers…
Departmental stores like HKB, Potpourri and Ideas by Gul Ahmed look overcrowded. Instead of buying and stocking hundreds of products that nobody wants, way past their shelf life, a smart buying strategy might help move stock quickly from their crowded racks.
Ventilation would help too; for example, Ideas by Gul Ahmed gives a stuffy, stale vibe because they do not have windows in their building – fresh air would make a big difference to their store. They are not the only ones, I noticed the stale air vibe in a number of stores (Y and H market both)…at least the new fashion fad of huge decorative glass walls and no windows doesn’t work for me. Bad smells put me off.
Lack of basic product lines, complete size set and organic product mix
You already know about my pet rant about stores lacking basic (replenishment) styles across seasons (apparel, shoes or accessories), not to mention, lacking complete sizes in stock, well, you can add to this list a third item, retailers seem to stock cheap blends as well. There are too many synthetics around – whatever happened to hundred percent cotton, wool and leather? Hello? Please, stock for Pakistan’s climate; thank you very much.
I still haven’t found a single basic hundred percent wool fine gauge black cardigan for example or a single pair of leather deck shoes, or penny loafers, or basic ballet flats, or thick soled work boots, or basic solid colored women’s tees, or countless other items on my shopping list that I would like to stock up… know what I mean? The price points are the pits as well. I don’t want to pay through my nose for cheap blends. Durability, quality and fit are important considerations when the price is higher. Why would you pay more for less?
There might be lots of western silhouettes available for men, women and kids including local labels now but I think most of them are rejected stock lots from the Far East factories with only smattering of original made in Pakistan for Pakistan. The vibe is very flea market. A well thought out buying plan that targets Pakistani urban demographics would help. May be the retailers should conduct a few focus groups, set up easy to use customer feedback forms that can be quickly filled at the point of sale? The retailers need to invest in attractive display too. Sometimes, too much product noise is the problem too. It makes it difficult to make quick shopping decisions.
Shopping should be fun, not a chore that you want to quickly get it over. That’s how, retailers get shoppers to impulse buy.
Editor’s Pick: Stores that fit our Eye Candy Criteria – Levi’s, Accessorize, Haroon’s, Charles and Keith, Body Shop…