Retailer boosts sales with a little help from his Facebook friends
GENTS retailer Alan Kelly sent out out a text and Facebook message to 2,500 customers to boost his business. The message was simply headlined: "HELP!"
"I told my client base that I had excess stock that I needed to sell and at bargain prices and it has worked. We have had a few great days' trading," said Alan, of Gentlemen Please in Blackrock, Co Dublin.
But he had to slash prices to €50 for designer knitwear, jeans and shirts while €500 coats at the luxury end were on offer at €149.
"It had to be done. I was just glad that I was able to offer all the loyal customers who have supported me over the years first notification of the sale," said Alan, who believes that retailers will have to become more proactive to save their businesses in the teeth of the worst recession in years.
"All clothing retailers have seen a massive drop in turnover compared with 2006 and 2007. I reckon it's down more than 70 per cent from the height of the Celtic Tiger," he says.
Many retailers have had to let staff go, renegotiate their rents and slash other costs.
"The banks are not doing business and increases in rates in the current environment is an absolute joke, especially on Dublin's high streets.
"What do we get for our rates? During the big freeze we had to clean the snow from our paths ourselves -- while the foreign multi-nationals in places like Dundrum Town Centre had everything done for them," he says.
He says that many retailers are under threat but there are things they can do to make sure they are not a casualty of the recession.
"You have to communicate with the customer. As a country it is vital that we shop locally, support the local traders. But people in business, the independent owner-managers, have to do their bit as well. They have to offer value and service," he says.