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Q4 2017

Happy Holidays? Let’s hold thumbs!

It is not an easy time for any retail buyer or planner preparing for this year’s traditional holiday, Xmas and back-to-school big-spend period. Predicting consumer demand is almost impossible due to the bigger political picture. Suppliers make some suggestions on what they believe will be sure sellers

As retailers get into gear for by far the biggest selling period of the year — the long summer school holidays, Christmas and the new year’s back-to-school purchases — they have to do their planning during one of the most unpredictable political climates since 1994.

The big question is: come the end of the year, will consumers be so upbeat and positive that they splash out on luxury purchases … or are they going to be depressed and scared and buy only necessities?

Just as in 1994, consumer spending is very much influenced by politics (remember the stockpiling of the pre-election period?). Now, it is just as difficult to predict how confident consumers will be to spend money on recreational items in the lead up to the crucial December 16 to 20th ANC conference period ... and especially, beyond!

It is no secret that investor and business confidence will be seriously impacted by the outcome of the election of the future president. And the direction of the money flow will determine if consumers will flock to the malls to spend, or go into hibernation.

In September Rand Merchant Bank asked 320 business leaders in and outside South Africa to predict what the outcome of the election would do to the rand.

At that stage it was pretty much a two-horse race and a candidate like Zweli Mkihze was not yet a serious contender. A win by deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa would strengthen the rand by 50c–R1 against the dollar, most of the business people surveyed predicted. On the other hand, a win by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma would weaken the rand by R1-R2 to the dollar.

In an import-dependent non-essential purchase retail industry like ours, the importance of a strong rand cannot be over-emphasised. Especially what it does to consumer expectations and confidence. Even though the effect of the good exchange rate will only be reflected in products arriving six months or a year down the line, consumers will be more likely to spend when they believe their rand is worth more.

In the second quarter of this year, when the rand was trading well against the dollar and pound (albeit due to external factors in those countries) South Africa officially exited the depression with 2.5% quarterly GDP growth.

Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) statistics for sporting goods equipment imported into South Africa during the first half of 2017 show that the industry was benefitting from a higher demand for international sports and fitness equipment. The volume of sporting goods items imported in the first half of 2017 was 20% up on the previous year, while footwear imports was 10% higher than the same period in 2016.

The biggest surge in demand was in the first quarter when sports imports increased 54% from Q1 2016 — but in Q2 2017 there was a 6% decrease in equipment volume imported compared to Q2 2016.

The obvious problem is that NOBODY has an accurate crystal ball to predict the level of consumer, business and investor confidence over this year’s holiday and back-to-school selling period. But, it takes no crystal ball to predict if you ain’t got it, you can’t sell it.

Having sufficient stock to cater for all eventualities is a no-brainer. The question is just: what should you stock?

Read on to see what products suppliers believe will generate holiday sales, come what may.

Skateboarding on a fast run

With the expected exposure during the 2010 Tokyo Olympics beckoning, it is safe to predict that skateboarding interest will grow with leaps and bounds over the next few years — whether among kids who want to join the cool crowd or serious participants who know all the moves.

More and more skateparks are being built in urban areas to provide safe skating zones and several initiatives are in place to introduce youths in all communities to this lifestyle sport. It is therefore accessible to all.

The need to stock skateboarding products is almost a given — especially during the coming holiday season.

Surge, locally distributed by De Wet Sports, offers a wide range of skateboards that should appeal to all age and size of skateboarders.

The Manic Icon series offers some retro-style plastic cruisers with vibrantly coloured decks with some awesome graphics underneath, says Kevin de Wet.

These polypropylene micro decks are ideal for smaller skaters as they are narrow (150mm) and short (570mm). The ABEC 7 bearings ensure a fairly high level of precision and efficiency, and also improves the chance of achieving greater speeds.

Pop art dual-sided deck designs really make the retro-style Cruze Skates stand out. The solid 9-ply large size maple decks are 760mm long and 210mm wide and are therefore best suited to bigger skaters who enjoy vert and ramp skating. They also have robust ABEC 5 bearings.

The full size Manic Fishtail series has retro style decks in three vibrant airbrush fade colours. The attractive polypropylene decks are a standard 710mm long and 190mm wide with ABEC 7 bearings.

Summit keeps kids active

Summit is well-known for the top team sport balls they provide, but the brand also gained a following among youngsters who enjoy ball sports. Their Kids in Sport range is designed both for tomorrow’s sports stars, as well as kids who just enjoy to be active and kick a ball around. The bright colours and fun take on sport is bound to captivate children for hours on end — and give mom and dad some respite.

These products will make excellent choices below the Christmas tree — or as a special gift to keep a youngster active and occupied over the school holidays.

Products are designed with attention-catching vibrant, bright colours and are available as sets, each with the necessary products to practice the activity.

They are also designed with children in mind: the majority of products are soft, but with the same shape as the adult product. This soft design is safe, giving parents peace of mind when their kids enjoy these sporting activities.

One example is the cricket set, which features a soft cricket bat and ball that will prevent mishaps from happening when the kids play close to windows.

The set also includes a ball launcher to give dad’s bowling arm a bit of a rest, and to keep the kids occupied while mom and dad are at work during the school holiday.

The soccer set is sure to have wide appeal among the many South African soccer lovers — big and small. It consists of a 2-in-1 pop-up soccer goal that can be used in two different ways: the one side is a goal net and the other is a target area, where children can practice accurate shooting. It also comes with a soft soccer ball.

There are also baseball and tennis sets with soft balls and bats or rackets, as well as a ball lancher in each set.

Boxing is an excellent form of exercise as well as a way of getting rid of anger and frustration and the boxing set from Summit will probably be just as popular with the adults as junior dreaming of future fame in the ring. The set provides an injury-free workout with a soft, safe bag that features target zones. The set also includes child-size boxing gloves.

Golf remains a crowd pleaser and aspirational sport — and as in many other sporting codes, the younger you start, the better your chance of mastering the art. Summit’s golf set is sure to inspire interest in the next generation and give them a gentle introduction to a sport they can enjoy till old age. It’s designed to replicate the real equipment (complete with ball, clubs and putting hole), while allowing children to learn and have fun at the same time.

The packaging of these Summit products, available locally from Opal Sports, has been designed to stand out in your store. The cardboard outer has bright graphics, and the eye-catching products are visible from far.

Special offers from R & S Traders to benefit customers

When purses are thin, everybody is looking for specials that offer them more bang for their bucks. R&S Traders is assisting its retail customers by offering them several specials and bulk deals that should appeal to the many new and old converts to air gun shooting looking for an interesting gift.

The increased interest in the many age group competitions organised by the SA Air Rifle Association in seven provinces, and the many organised shooting sport disciplines that use airguns (e.g. metallic silhouette, benchrest, action shooting, etc.) provide a big, and growing, market of airgun and rifle sport shooters.

In addition, there are many families who are not shooting club members who buy airguns for target practice and to learn the basics of firearm handling — especially since it does not require the stringent licensing process.

They also offer a variety of airguns and rifles at various price points.

The R&S philosophy is if you don’t have it, you can’t sell it and they therefore aim to replenish stock faster than the industry average, by ensuring that they have a ready supply of the products they source from all over the world.

Gear that appeals to adventurers and travelers from TOG

Just in time for the holiday camping, trekking and overseas traveling season Traverse Outdoor Gear (TOG) is introducing a new brand, Life Marque, which offers nifty products and accessories for people on the go. The brand has several ranges, but TOG is initially introducing two — Lifesystems for adventurers and campers who don’t mind roughing it, and Lifeventure for less intrepid travelers.

Lifesystems products have protected adventurers and explorers for over 25 years against whatever the elements and fate have thrown at them, says Deidre Keulder of TOG.

The wide product range includes first aid kits, water purification, sun protection, insect repellants, thermal mugs, etc. to provide some comfort to adventurers venturing into the toughest climates and inhospitable environments.

“The product developers work with leading expedition and emergency medical experts, travelling in the world’s harshest regions to create a collection of outdoor medical and survival products that will withstand the most extreme conditions and environments,” explains Keulder.

The brand does constant research and employ scientific innovation to produce these products that can help you survive your toughest adventures, she says.

The Lifeventure range has catered for travelers wanting to experience new cultures, broaden their horizons and explore every corner of every continent in security and comfort for over 20 years, says Keulder.

Products include interesting storage and security products — including wallets that block RFiD micro-chipped cards against identity theft — money belts, wash gear, sleep gear, first aid kits, options for eating and drinking on the go, and many more items aimed at making a traveling more comfortable.

“Every product is specified to the highest standards and functionality, reliability and style are all key considerations that the team continually work to perfect,” says Keulder. “Whether you’re heading out on an adventure holiday, gap year, or just stepping out of your front door, Lifeventure is with you every step of the way.”

The first products were expected to land at the end of October.

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