Can you explain the false economy of a bicycle shaped object?

Comment: Planned for the summer?

WHAT A DIFFERENCE a bit of sunshine makes. Formerly desolate streets instantly transform into high footfall areas. People peel themselves off sofas and spend evenings in pub gardens, go for walks, or even better, go for a bike ride. EastEnders and Britain’s Got (Very Little) Talent are all forgotten about, with the evening sun adding a few hours playtime to the end of the working day.

Peak season seems to have arrived, or at least as I sit behind this keyboard staring out the window into the afternoon sun, I’ve been fooled into thinking the worst of the wet weather has been and gone.

So, what are you going to do differently this summer to ensure consistent footfall and strong sales? What opportunities went begging last year that could have been seized? Are you going to remain shop bound, or attend a few summer cycling events to raise the store’s profile?

All things worth considering in the run-up to what will hopefully be a bumper summer for bicycle sales.

Beware, however, there’s plenty of distraction around for the first time buyer at the moment. Just a day or two ago I opened the paper to find Tesco offering to ‘double up’ the worth of clubcard points against bike and accessory sales. If a customer mentions such bicycle shaped objects, how will you explain to them the false economy of buying cheap. And, more importantly, can your staff explain with the same grace?

Having sat down for a pub lunch recently I observed how other trades go about tutoring staff. A new bar girl and her employer were acting out a role play, with the former being prompted lightly whenever she’d ‘forgotten her lines’. With a rehearsal fresh in her mind, the next customer through the door was served far more efficiently than I was just half an hour earlier.

An impromptu visit to Evans following the destruction of a pedal also left impressions this month. Despite spending no more than £25 in store, the assistant asked “would I mind if Evans held on to my details with a view to sharing promotions with me in future”. I took the bullet, for research purposes, and intend to keep an eye on what arrives.

I’ve praised Evans for a number of things in the past – women’s exclusive events, clever marketing and more – and I have to say, I can’t fault the chain’s tactics. The ‘vibe’ within isn’t that of a nasty corporate monster, more a friendly independent. That alone should be of more concern to any competitive retailer than supermarket discounting.

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