Yellow’s 2014 SME survey found that 66 percent of small to medium enterprises in retail and wholesale are expecting a profit increase this year.
This is above the national average for SMEs, which is 54 percent.
Despite this optimism, retailers voiced their concerns about their ability to attract new customers. Nine out of ten retailers said this was a big concern for them.
Anxiety came through in other areas related to gaining new customers and competing with popular online stores.
These were: keeping up with digital marketing trends (86 percent concerned) and implementing new technologies (79 percent concerned).
Yellow CEO Michael Boersen says the survey looked at the worries that kept business owners awake at night.
He says its results showed that besides attracting new customers, rising costs and new revenue streams remain an ongoing worry for SMEs.
“We think that business owners are aware of how bombarded consumers are with messages from an ever-increasing number of channels,” he says.
“Competition these days isn’t just a new shop a few streets over, it’s your competitor set online too.”
Retailers who run smaller operations, particularly in areas outside the major cities, face an uphill battle to both preserve and gain customers.
But retailers around the country are showing ingenuity to combat these concerns in difficult times.
Rebecca White is the owner of Red Streetwear in Hokitika and founder of the ‘Love Hokitika – our cool little town’ campaign.
The campaign promotes local businesses by banding retailers together to achieve the common goal of encouraging people to buy locally.
“It was really born out of desperation, to be honest, because we were finding our local people weren’t coming into town and seeing what was on offer. They were letting their fingers do the walking on the internet,” she says.
“We wanted to get everyone on board because everyone is struggling and together you can have a much bigger impact.”
Some of the initiatives Love Hokitika has undertaken are local market days, when retailers bring their stores out onto the footpath and spruce up their shopfront windows.
There’s also been a Christmas competition for shoppers where retailers put in a $100 voucher each. The prize pool equates to over $4000 worth of prizes that will be awarded to one lucky shopper.
Social media has been used to promote the campaign online, grabbing online shoppers’ attention.
The Love Hokitika Facebook page has just under 2000 likes and showcases new products and deals from stores which are part of the campaign.
White says the campaign has had hugely successful results, as have the participating shops.
“It’s really positive, it’s got people talking about retail again. It was necessary, that’s for sure,” she says.