Business and Finance

Lessons Learned

The theme to the popular 80s TV show ‘The Facts of Life’ advised us to “take the good, take the bad.” That’s the hard lesson for small business owners in the wake of Small Business Saturday. Despite record-breaking attendance, analysts say sales are still down for most mom-and-pop shops, as compared to previous years.

Good and Bad

U.S. companies made nearly $13 billion during this year’s Small Business Saturday, according to the 2017 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights survey. Researchers say 43 percent (four in ten) of faithful shoppers patronized local small businesses. Now in its eighth year, the 2017 event attracted more than 108 million total consumers.

In a survey preceding the event, nine out of ten consumers said it “has a positive impact on the community,” and inspires them to “explore new, independently-owned retailers and restaurants.” Most respondents (80 percent) said they purposely save at least some holiday shopping specifically so they can participate.

However, while more folks are welcoming the idea with open arms, many are still reluctant to open their wallets. Both attendance and spending were down from 2016, when 112 million shoppers spent more than $15 billion. As more consumers opt for the ease and comfort of buying online, a continued decline is expected.

The ‘Facts’

shopping-mall-shopping-small

Analysts say the decline in interest and participation is caused, in part, due to lack of awareness. In 2016, 72 percent of consumers said they found out about the event through social media. That’s a two percent increase from 2015.

However, in an era of ad-blockers and consumer angst toward promotional materials, many shoppers remain unaware of the event. Others have cited difficulty getting downtown, or making time to shop on a designated day.

Still, organizers remain optimistic.

“The momentum that was started with the first Small Business Saturday continues to build,” said Elizabeth Rutledge — Executive Vice President of Global Advertising and Media at American Express.

The credit firm sponsors the event, and also assists small businesses with marketing and promotional incentives.

by Frank Samandari
Guest Writer
Residential Life Magazine

Frank Samandari is an award-winning journalist, web writer, and voice talent based near Daytona Beach Florida.

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Rants n' Raves

Hard to Make a Livin’

News Summary

San Francisco recently became the first U.S. city to mandate fully-paid parental leave. New parents will now receive 100% of their wages during a six-week leave period, and get guaranteed return to their jobs.

Response

Look, I’m all for personal leave time. I get it. Bonding with the baby, etc. Makes sense. But to force employers to not only give a free vacation… but then have to pay for it, too? Absurd! First $15-an-hour minimum wage and now this?! The State of California is clearly anti-small business.

And what about those who choose not to have kids? Contrary to what some believe, family life is not a command performance. Where’s the bankrolled vacation for childless workers? What about new pet owners? Who’s gonna take care of my puppy when I’m “workin’ for the man every night and day?” Where’s my free vacation?! Puppy-owner bonding is important, too! I’m so tired of this horseshit.

This law is a double-whammy against employers who now have to figure out a way to keep their companies running, while throwing money out the door so some lazy-ass workers can sit around and live the high life… on their dime. It means the workers that are left behind will be forced to shoulder more responsibilities with no extra pay, and consumers will face higher prices to make up the difference. I’m sorry, but your snot-nosed brat just isn’t worth it.

Rants n’ Raves with Jon Novin | Residential Life Magazine

Politics and Society

The Walmart Effect

Fresh off a debate/argument with a relative, I decided to take to the keyboard, before the discussion devolved into fisticuffs (my cousin looked like he was about to break a chair over my face, Jon Novin style).

I won’t beat around the bush. I love Walmart. I love everything about the company, from the stores to their business practices and ethics. It’s come to a point where I actually get offended when someone speaks ill of the retail giant, and there have been more than a few times when I have felt compelled to come to its vehement defense, as evidenced by the aforementioned arse-beating I narrowly avoided today.

As a consumer, I feel like Walmart is ‘fighting for me.’ They are like a big-box big brother, always (“always!”) looking out for my best interests, always ready to step in if and when they have to.

Major retailers will fight to the death!
Major retailers will fight to the death!
Without sounding too much like a commercial, low prices rule at Walmart. Dave (my cousin) took issue with the pricing system, alleging the company ‘tells’ manufacturers what they’re willing to pay to showcase products in their stores. He said it’s “like a punishment” and that smaller companies can’t compete, so they have to give into the “blue Devil.” I can’t speak to the accuracy of the comments, but even if it were true… so what?

Say you like Coca-Cola. Coke knows a lot of people who like their stuff also shop at Walmart. So when they price their products at, say, $1.75 for a two-liter bottle, and Walmart says they’re only going to accept a price of $1.25, Coke is faced with a dilemma.

Do they stand firm and risk not having their drinks in Walmart stores — knowing it would cost them thousands in revenue — or do they ‘take the cut,’ understanding that 50 cents is not worth losing all that potential cash?

Dave says this makes Walmart the bully, but consider this: the other day I noticed that Coke was $1.60. It means they pushed back and won. Coke is a huge company, too, and they have more than a little bargaining power. I wish I could have seen that negotiation. It probably would have been like an old sci-fi movie of Godzilla and Mothra.

So in this case, Walmart had to decide if they were going to let Coke walk out the door, or pass on a few extra cents to the consumer. Since I love Coke (and I can still get it cheaper at Walmart than anywhere else) I don’t mind paying a bit more now. I know by summer the price will be back down to normal. Everything’s cool.

Sure, in this scenario smaller companies may have to “take a hit” (as Dave says), but it’s in their best interest to have their products in Walmart, since most people (myself definitely included!) aren’t going to go traipsing around town to a bunch of specialty stores, when they can do a ‘one-stop-shop’ at Walmart and be done with it.

And once enough shoppers try and like your products, then your company grows, and eventually you’ll have the pull of Coke and you can work out a better deal. After all, everyone has to pay their dues.

What I won’t accept is paying out the nose for products that aren’t worth it. Nike, for instance, will have you shell out $90+ bucks for a shoe that costs them about $3.50 to make. I don’t play that kind of greedy marketing, and neither does Walmart.

Look, Walmart isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and neither are loyal shoppers like me. Whether you like it or not, more and more companies are adopting the discount model, and making deals on price point, instead of just accepting whatever bloated costs the manufacturers decide on.

That free ride is over. The consumer is now king. And Walmart is our Camelot.

 by Paymon West | Editor | Residential Life Magazine