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Saturday, 19 January 2013

Retail Sales Survey time

It's that time of year again when I have to fill in the retail sales survey and I'm afraid to say that once again I will be ticking the 'more than 5% increase' box.

In a week where we have seen many large retail chains go under, Nigel Farage on Question Time has indicated that a further 140 chains are in financial difficulties, I find myself in the rather strange position of having delivered on the intentions I set forth, which can only mean that my analysis of the situation, the fundamental assumptions upon which I have operated and the decisions I have made have been entirely correct.

So what is it that other local businesses have been missing, where have they been going wrong? The JEP offers a solution but I am afraid, that is no solution at all. The fundamental issue is that Jersey is simply not big enough a market to sustain a business.

Think back a few decades and even before the invention of the computer Jersey businesses depended on overseas sales, fortunately in those days we had no shortage of overseas visitors. The government destroyed that through over-regulation, by intervening in a market they had not understanding of.

Local retailers cannot provide the range of goods required, at the prices required by selling to the local market only. That is not them ripping anyone of, that is simply a result of economies of scale and the lack thereof in Jersey.

So my intention, my assumptions and my direction was to service the international market and offer the same goods and services at a cut down price to people in Jersey. The prices in the shop are lower than my price on the internet and my price on the internet is the lowest - but even I cannot compete with Amazon's buying power, so I don't try. I get goods from suppliers who refuse to sell to Amazon, because their concern is for the long term future of their brand and not for six months of high sales and then no future at all.

So back to the retail sales survey. My results exclude international sales, which is done under the auspices of a different business entirely and so the results measure only like for like sales made in the shop in Jersey. It's pleasing to have the support of the Island, but it really isn't necessary to the future of my business. I may not get any awards from the States of Jersey, but then I don't work with them. I prefer success to recognition.