Sears Closing Stores – Lessons For Austin Retail Owners

Austin Retail Real EstateBy now I’m sure most of you have heard that Sears is closing as many as 120 of its Sears and Kmart department stores. More about that here. This seems strange given that this holiday seasons retail sales were predicted to increase by 2% over 2010. So how can a retail giant like Sears/Kmart continue to fall given their 125 year history of providing quality products, competitive pricing, innovation (e.g. catalog sales), and overall retail dominance? You may have heard them blame the economy, stiff competition, drops in electronic and clothing sales, etc. The real answer……………they got complacent and neglected their business! So what can Austin retail property owners do to avoid what is happening to Sears?

1. Lease the Right Retail Space location – Don’t rush into leasing the first retail property that comes along. Give yourself time (1-4 months at least) to do the necessary research to find that perfect location. If you have been in an Austin retail real estate location for the last 3-5 years and the traffic and visibility is not meeting your expectations then consider relocating. Don’t settle! Make a decision and do it.

2. ABI aka Always Be Innovating – Target focuses on being trendy while still maintaining competitive pricing. Walmart makes it easier for lower income families to purchase products with their layaway program, Others spend money every year to improve their brand or remodel their store fronts. Whole Foods even with higher prices keeps customers returning because they offer a cool customer “Experience”. The key is to try to think 1, 2, 3 years ahead on how you can continue to have happy, satisfied customers who will return again. Do your research, spend a little money, and figure out how to make them happy…………not only now but later.

3. Customer Feedback – Don’t be afraid to ask your customers what they like and don’t like about your store, products, or customer service. The good news is that you can always take negative feedback and turn that into positive outcomes. I know it’s hard to take criticism sometimes however it’s important to ask for it or you will never know what is working or NOT working. If your customers have a bad experience they will tell 20 others. You want to find out who they are and make them happy.

I have only listed a few tips for business owners who lease retail space in Austin. If you would like more information or are interested in learning about Austin retail space lease rates feel free to contact us.

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