Despite the disruption from the pandemic and subsequent adaptions we’ve made to our routines this year, when it comes to retail, some things don’t change. For golf retailers, Autumn heralds the time for planning and buying for the following year. Hopefully, the weather will be kind and deliver an extended season; late tournaments such as The Masters and US Open often offer a welcome boost to golf sales; and we start to think about what our customers will want to buy over the Winter.
With the best of the season and the major product launches behind us, now’s the time to look at the successes and failures from this year to help you plan strategically for the next. But, wait! This is 2020 and it hasn’t exactly been a ‘normal’ year of retail. No one could have predicted a global pandemic or a shut shop for 2 months. We didn’t plan for this so, how do golf retailers now make decisions for the year ahead?
“Believe it or not, when it comes to buying for next year, things shouldn’t be that different”, says XPOS Business Development Director, Mark Hopkins, “Golf retail is down a bit but you can see how we’ve actually bucked the trend when you compare golf to general retail. July this year actually saw the biggest month of sales ever recorded by Golf Datatech Europe, and the August results are a close second. Yes, most retailers will be down slightly on last year, but we’ve seen some tremendous successes, even though shops were closed earlier in the season”.
Golf retail experts are asking retailers to put Covid fears to one side when it comes to their business. “You might think it’s going to be a lot harder to plan for next year because of the pandemic but don’t forget that golf retailers are used to dealing with disasters. The weather deals continual blows to UK golf businesses and, yet, we always make a comeback. Year on year, the numbers even out. It’s worth remembering that”.
Watch for Highs and Lows
Two years ago, the team at XPOS undertook analysis, using historic data from golf shop sales and noted a definitive cycle of sales every 2 years.
The graph shows the distinct peaks and troughs across 7 years’ worth of sales data for the Outerwear category, illustrating a clear purchasing pattern. We can clearly see how sales increase and decrease every two years. So, if sales peaked in 2018, they will dip the following year, and rise again in 2020. The research proved the same cyclical pattern occurred across all key categories, although some were more extreme than others.
Big peak followed by a big trough. Small peak followed by a small trough.
“We can take a positive message from what we found in the research, especially with the events of 2020” says Mark, “Everyone knows the weather influences the golf business so you’d think the one category that would be the most effected is Outerwear. What we know is that if you have a bad time with a category one year, don’t assume it’ll be the same next year. Don’t give up because, despite the weather, national disasters or a global pandemic, you can more or less guarantee that cycle. If you’ve had a bad year with Apparel sales in 2020, try not to panic.”
The biggest impact on your business is still you: the decisions you make and what you do. Taking advantage of the highs is a key priority. When the weather is good, or we’re experiencing a boom in golf, don’t sit still. Adapt, be creative and embrace the good times. “Pay attention to the highs and lows, watch for trends and invest more, or less, in areas that are working. It might be a gamble but use the numbers to back you up and keep in mind our findings about the buying cycle”, suggests Mark.
How to track your own buying cycles
A good sales and stock solution will give you access to reports that can help you watch for trends across your business and could help you to be more confident in your buying decisions. If you’re an XPOS user, run the Monthly Sales Analysis by DPS report: picking a date range and category. Go back to 2017 and see what patterns emerge.
It’s just possible that 2020 has been a worse year for golf fashion brands than for the retailers themselves. When shops closed in March, many golf retailers cancelled pre-orders in anticipation of fewer sales, which has had a knock-on effect across the industry.
Phil Barnard is XPOS Chairman and Partner of market research company Golf Datatech, “We’re now at a point where stock levels have come down dramatically across the industry and there just isn’t enough stock in the supply chain. If retailers don’t commit to brands, the brands can’t plan ahead or guarantee a supply of stock. I’ve been in several golf shops recently that are pretty under-stocked and I do have concerns that shops will have nothing to sell next year.”
Make the Smart Decisions Now
It’s crucial for retailers to understand where golf sits and remember that, despite the disruption of Covid-19, golf sales are doing well. Think about the members who have joined your clubs this year and encourage them to stay on. What can you do to build loyalty and encourage repeat purchases?
Phil suggests retailers ought to be extra-rigorous with their plans for next year:
- Look at your own buying cycles; think about your peaks and troughs and try to anticipate what you might sell more, or less, of next year
- Put aside concerns about the effect of Covid-19 on your business and have confidence in your reports. Research shows that sales even out over a longer term and the buying cycles run themselves
- Look at what you need now and make a commitment to your brands. Perhaps focus on fewer brands for 2021. “If you normally deal with 10 brands, maybe cut it down to 5”, recommends Phil, “If you deal with 5 brands, focus on 3. Rather than spread your loyalty thin, work with fewer brands but think about some form of commitment to the ones you work with”.
- Put your orders in!
If time really is against you this month, you could look to repeat your 2019 purchases, at the very least. The key thing is not to shrink your stock too much as you may not be able to get hold if it when you need it most.
For help with setting business goals, budgeting, and understand reporting, book a Business Health Review with an XPOS retail expert 01454 418 395. For updates on XPOS developments, business news, and free retail advice, follow us on social. To keep track of how the brands are performing across categories nationwide, sign up to monthly Golf Datatech reports by following this link.