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Problem solver: Making the right move can help fashion store footfall

Q I am 27 and have just returned from working abroad in the fashion industry. My parents have a retail shop unit in a poor location, but have given it to me at cheap rent. Sales are abysmal, as the footfall I need isn’t in the area. Do you think I can build up the business over time?

A It’s difficult to say without visiting the area and getting a feel for it. However, from the picture you paint there is a significant doubt in my mind as to whether you can ever create a successful business in this location. The other possibility is that, while it might be possible, it may take you years of running at a loss until you eventually achieve enough footfall.

There are so many contradictions when it comes to location. The general rule of thumb is that if you are in a primary location, life becomes a little easier as you have thousands of customers passing your door on a weekly basis, and your job is to persuade them to walk through your door.

Being located in a secondary location means that you will have to spend an awful amount of money attracting people to that location.

There are plenty of examples of successful business in poor locations, but in many of these cases the owners have worked tirelessly over a long period to build the footfall, and they have a unique offer. If you are telling me that your fashion outlet has a range of brands that are in demand, and not available elsewhere, then I would probably say you have a fighting chance.

On the balance, however, it could also be a case that the lure of the cheaper rent will make it impossible for you to ever have a large business at this location. If I were in your shoes I would be siding with moving to a higher footfall location and paying a little more for rent. Your sales will be a multiple of what they are currently and you should be able to afford the higher outgoings.

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