How successful is a sale when everyone else is in sale too? I wondered about this as I walked through a mall yesterday.
Everyone was looking to shift what they could, however they could. Which struck me as an extraordinary contradiction. Because surely the whole point of being in sale is to be in a position where you are offering goods at a price that is unmatched by those around you – so that you can either make way for more goods and/or move on what you have and recoup something.
When everyone goes into sale however, the dynamics change one of two ways.
Either, everyone goes into a feeding frenzy, grabs everything they can and it’s all over in no time.
Or the opposite occurs. It’s much harder to move goods because even your lowered price is not an active incentive. And you’re not going to recoup because in order to be seen to be in sale in a market where everyone’s in sale, you’ll probably have to keep dipping, below cost even – which is as good as handing out dollars at the door.
The plural of sale is not sales. The plural of sale is new norm. What would have been seen as a bargain yesterday is now today’s market price. The market has relevelled. At least temporarily.
And that in turn changes the nature of customers. They suspend buying, and begin doing what capitalism expects in a volatile market – speculating. Is this as low as the price can go? How far can it drop before they close their doors (and we get a clearance sale)? How long before everyone puts their price back up?
A sale sign on its own is something of an invitation. Sale signs in abundance are nothing but shark bait.
Photo of “Sale Shop window night”, taken by PRodriguez, sourced from Flickr