Don't jettison advertising budgets, retailers advised

Retailers considering reducing marketing are warned to tread carefully.

Garden centres have been warned not to be hasty in cutting advertising budgets, despite a fall in sales for the third year running. Retail sales from January to May are down 3.3 per cent on the same period last year (HW, 22 June). Large retailers with a turnover of more than £4m fell furthest, with sales down 6.24 per cent. The decline comes as businesses are hit by rising fuel and energy prices and ahead of a rise in the minimum wage later this year. But those businesses considering cost-cutting by slashing advertising should tread warily. Retail consultant Andy Campbell said: “Cutting advertising spend isn’t the first thing I would do. “Don’t just go for a soft target like cutting your advertising. Think about what you can do to drive your sales harder, and where you can save costs in other areas.” Extra promotion of products or activities might help to bring in more customers, Campbell added. Marketing director John Moseley of Gloucestershire-based Garden & Leisure garden centres is aware of the problems of dropping advertising. The company cancelled promotional pamphlets last August and suffered a 15 per cent drop in sales for the month, compared with August of the previous year. Moseley said the advertising secret was to have a well-priced product to attract customers. A recent successful campaign featured a “grow your own tomato chutney” deal. The retailer sold 40,000 tomato plants and 8,000 grow-bags in a month.

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