A dialog was brought up this week about senior discounts and discounts for customers with fixed incomes, low incomes etc…
This conversation reminds us of the retailers’ social card we all must deal with. It is the social conscious of our business.
Brick and motor retail have an open window to the pulse of its’ community, wherever that may be. Like the old home goods store in a dusty small town, the retail store becomes an expert in what is happening its’ neighborhood, socially and financially. We feel it through our pours of our business.
I constantly give price breaks, and many times without the customer even knowing. I struggle offering discounts to customers because of the adage,
“Don’t judge a book by its cover”.
My brick and motor is in the middle of a few levels of income demographics. I am half a block away from Park ave, on the border of Harlem and the Upper East Side. I am surrounded by upscale doctor offices and the giant Mt. Sinai. Most neighborhoods in New York City can be like this. Just one block away can house a population with a totally different income level. Our customer net is full of financial disparities.
I bought a necklace from a very elderly woman a month ago. She said she needed the income to buy food. Yesterday I had a woman spend $800 to have clothing to take on her vacation. I have low-income women who work in the neighborhood and professionals who can afford my prices without a second thought. This can be a daily occurrence, for me and for many other retailers out in the world.
Obviously, we, as retailers find visually gauging our customers gives us data we can then use to help us sell to them. I try so hard not to do this. I try so hard not to pre-determine. I have made a fool of myself on more than one occasion. I do believe over the years I have become smoother helping people on limited budgets find a purchase in my store they can afford. I usually head straight to the sale rack if they have discussed their price range. Sometimes, I ask their price range in advance so I know what to offer them without guessing and miss guessing.
My sale rack can help with the issue of affordability. I always have a few items I hope most can afford. I know I am in business to make money, but making everyone comfortable, even if all they can do is browse and enjoy the experience to me is important.
Many larger retailers donate to charities, and they receive tax breaks or write-offs in doing so. Small retailers give price breaks to customers face-to-face. It is not a marketing ploy, it is part of our daily community activism.