In what ways has Showcase been able to support its members through the challenges presented by the pandemic?
We’ve distributed approximately 3 million dollars in cash flow to Showcase members to help alleviate the pressure that the pandemic has placed on these small businesses and help them survive the effects of the economic downturn. We’re thrilled to see many of our members record some of their strongest growth in many years despite the challenges presented by this pandemic.
Some of our members have experienced struggles related to rent negotiations and reductions made necessary from lockdown effects on business operations. We have been able to successfully help our members through this process and achieve positive outcomes in many cases.
2020 Christmas saw a great comeback to trade across many industries and jewellery was no exception. How did 2021 numbers stack up?
Our members had a stellar year in the 2020 financial year! Christmas was just the icing on the cake. With Covid-19’s impact soaring again between July and September, we saw an increase in retail activity mid-September – a trend that continued throughout the month of December 2021. The end result saw our stores increase their sales by approximately 2% in comparison to December 2020, with an higher average sales report and a staggering 30% increase from December 2019.
We had been pleasantly surprised enough at the success of Christmas sales throughout Showcase stores across Australia and New Zealand in December 2020. We hadn’t expected December 2021 to exceed these phenomenal numbers! Financially, this puts our stores in a leading position moving forward into the future.
What are some of the specific goals you have set for 2022 in terms of driving the success of your members’ stores forward?
Our strategic plan is positioned around our highest key stakeholder our members. As such, we have developed a series of services not previously available to our members, including leasing; legal; taxation; training and many more. In addition to introducing new service offerings in 2022, we want to continue our existing offering for access to Retail Edge data software to our members free of charge. Retail Edge is an intuitive stock management system that takes the guesswork out of buying stock through organising stock by SKU, supplier and specifications, making stock management ordering a much easier process for all parties.
We plan to continue and expand on our partnerships with key national and international stock suppliers, which we believe is paramount to ensuring our stores have the buying power to remain competitive in their prices, delivery and product quality.
On an internal scale, we have taken the initiative to employ additional team members in select departments to ensure our operations and communications remain outstanding for our members. Our marketing department has expanded to provide our members with more access to digital marketing support and assistance with creating their own digital space. Where have you seen an increase in the purchase of specific products in the business?
From the beginning of the pandemic, we have seen the retail average rise for the membership with increases across all departments. We believe this is the result of customers not spending as much on travel and having access to government subsidies, therefore having more discretionary income to spend on themselves and gifts. Custom jewellery has helped lift this average, with customers embracing a higher price point to end up with a uniquely personalised jewellery piece.
What do you expect the near future to look like for Showcase Jewellers and their members?
We expect the Showcase business to continue an incredibly positive trading period over the next two years as consumers gradually begin to feel confident to travel abroad once again. The ‘buy local, support local’ consumer mentality increase has brought with it a ‘nationalist’ approach to the retail/ manufacturing industries, keeping business owners’ and consumers’ eyes on Australian shores for their purchases.
Average basket and item expenditure has increased substantially during the Covid-19 period, resulting in many customers choosing to buy higher-priced, higher-quality items rather than risk loss or delays from overseas shipping amid the current climate of global uncertainty.
Looking ahead, we are developing various systems with some of our key stakeholders to give our members a key competitive advantage in the marketplace. These initiatives will be presented to our members during the year. Showcase maintains an extremely strong focus on member training through digital assistance, while looking forward to the day when in-person training sessions are once again safe and achievable for our members and staff. Staying connected to our members through digital communications and availability remains our top priority at this point in time.