The Discounting Hangover

We have spent the last month or so looking for a new bedroom and have been in and out of at least a dozen furniture stores. The trend seems to be huge sale, packed store or no sale, empty store.

Several of the stores were having sales where everything in the store was over 50% off.  It kind left you with that used car dealership feeling wondering what was wrong or what you were missing.  Additionally, the stores had so many people in them it was nearly impossible to find someone to help you with questions.

We were close to making a purchase at one store but it wasn’t having a sale.  When we asked if they had anything planned, we heard that we had just missed the August sale but the October sale was right around the corner.

Prof. Tim Calkins often writes about the dangers of relying on sales to drive your business and what it can do to your brand.  In his last post is he used the cash for clunkers program as an example.   Prof. Calking warns,

Discounting is a bit like partying.  Everything is wonderful and fun while the party rolls on.  But inevitably the party ends and when the sun comes up the hangover remains.  And in general, the bigger the party, the bigger the hangover.

Once your customers start expecting sales, it is going to be very painful to wean them off the juice.  Especially in an industry where people can afford to wait to make their purchase.

We have not found what we are looking but are confident when we do, there will be a furniture sale waiting for us.