Home > News > Deck the halls with retail success

Deck the halls with retail success

Spread the love

The festive season and ensuing Boxing Day sales are undoubtedly the peak period for retailers.  Ensure that you don’t have a post-Christmas hangover by following these important tips and tricks from the MST Retail Group.

Polish your brand
The three wise men followed the shining star.  Similarly, if your brand shines, customers will follow.  Now is a great time to give your brand some ‘spit and polish’ to make it a beacon in the crowd.  Is your brand used consistently across all customer ‘touch points’ including catalogues, flyers, store promotions, uniforms, shopping bags, internet, invoices, TV, radio, giveaways and Santa sacks?

On the third day of Christmas the Fair Work Ombudsman came knocking for me
The Fair Work Ombudsman has already commenced random audits in retail precincts, with their primary objective to ensure employee’s minimum rights are protected irrespective of how busy your business is.  Reappraise yourself of your employee’s entitlements on public holidays so that employees are accurately paid minimum penalty rates or equivalent time off in lieu.  Employees normally rostered to work on a day on which a public holiday falls will be entitled to be paid for their day off.  Any additional hours worked by employees should be paid at the applicable overtime rate.

Santa’s extended trading hours
Many shopping centres will open for extended trading hours as Christmas approaches. Check whether or not your lease requires you to open during these extended hours and on what terms and conditions.

Product Safety
Ensure all the products you are selling are safe and have not been subject to recall notices. If you have any doubts, check the Australian Government’s website: www.recalls.gov.au. Remember that recalls and unsafe product warning notices can be issued for food as well as toys and products.  Accountability for product liability may, in some circumstances, attach to the owners of retail businesses. Better to be safe than sorry!

Avoid Santa’s naughty list – obtain consent for your display tables
Retailers in shopping centre often place display tables and/or promotional staff outside their premises over Christmas but particularly during the Boxing Day sales. As the area outside your premises is not covered by your lease you will need either specific consent from the landlord or a licence for this activity. Check whether your lease grants you such a licence or whether you need to seek separate consent from the landlord. Failure to do so will put you in breach of your lease.
Remember also that your existing public liability insurance policies may not cover such displays. Check with your insurance company or broker as to whether you need additional cover before you set up any displays

Advertising claims
E-mail offers, Internet shopping and mobile phone text message offers are now part of everyday life. It’s very important to consider all aspects of your advertising to ensure that communications you make to your customers with Christmas or January sale offers, are  in no way misleading and deceptive and comply fully with the Trade Practices Act.

No rest for the wicked – check your lease before closing your store
Many retailers may consider closing their premises for public holidays or a specific period over the Christmas period. Be aware that the trading hours in your lease may mean that such a closure is a breach of the lease giving your landlord the right to terminate the lease or recover damages. If you are going to close check your lease or obtain consent from your landlord.

Consumer Contracts and Unfair contract terms
In Victoria, every consumer contract has a number of terms implied by the Fair Trading Act 1999.   If a term in a consumer contract is assessed as being unfair, the newly introduced Pt2B of the Victorian Fair Trading Act 1999 will render the term(s) void. The remainder of contract will continue to bind the parties, but only if the contract can exist without the unfair term. Consumers may take action only if they believe contract terms are unfair. It is therefore very important that businesses make sure their contracts comply with the law. Be aware that Consumer Affairs Victoria reviews contract terms on an industry by industry basis and have been known to seek traders’ “cooperation” in modifying or removing terms that are considered unfair. Consumer Affairs Victoria will not hesitate to pursue Part 2B remedies in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal if a trader refuses to address its concerns.

Gift Cards and Vouchers
There are certain requirements set out under the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) Gift Facilities Class Order applying to gift vouchers/cards. This includes the requirements that vouchers/cards:
1. have the expiry date prominently displayed and it is clear that it is an expiry date
2. indicate whether they can be used more than once
3. indicate whether they can be redeemed for cash.
Retailers who fail to meet these requirements will be considered to be providing ‘financial services’ for the purposes of the Corporations Act 2001 and will be required to comply with these requirements.

Refunds & Returns
Whilst Christmas is always an exciting time in retail, the post Christmas refund rush is ever retailer’s dread. It’s worth taking the time to ensure you have a well communicated refund policy.  Remember that every time a sale is made, a contract is entered into between the customer and the retailer. With this contract come certain conditions that must be adhered to and that cannot change. Make sure your refund policy complies with the law and then ensure it is clearly displayed in your stores. It is often valuable for customers to have the policy clearly printed on a sale docket too.  Sale goods must be treated in the same way as ordinary stock when determining a refund. All staff should be trained in the laws of refunds and your policy to avoid unlawful statements being made and subsequent customer dissatisfaction.

Be Aware of Consumer Laws
Consumer Affairs Victoria undertakes unannounced inspections of retail traders in major regional centers to check that they comply with relevant legislation. For traders found to be breaching the law on-the-spot infringement notices are issued. Failure to display correct signage or licence information or selling products that breach product safety standards will be subject to Consumer Affairs penalty provisions.

Keep an Eye Out for Copies
The Christmas frenzy is an ideal time for counterfeit operators to infringe your intellectual property.  These infringing activities will have an adverse impact on your sales.  There are urgent (legal) steps you can take to shut down counterfeit operations – for example, seeking an urgent injunction restraining the infringing act.

Keep your Employees Merry
Retail employees will typically work additional hours across the Christmas season.  Ensure that they are working safely with all working areas remaining clear of hazards and employees continue to use ladders and other equipment according to their training.  Fatigue is a common cause of workplace injuries so roster employees carefully to ensure that they have opportunities to take rest breaks during shifts and have sufficient down time between shifts.

If you have any questions please contact one of our Retail lawyers.

Our Retail Group wishes you a Merry Christmas