Ideas to help retailers survive tough times

Is a tsunami of store closings coming at the end of the year?

Yes, according to the “retail distress” experts at Grant Thornton, who say as many as 10,000 retail stores in 2009 could go dark by New Year’s, twice as many as in 2008.

But there are ways savvy retailers can survive, the company says, including by committing to financial management and process improvement initiatives, which just happen to be Grant Thornton’s business.

That said, it couldn’t hurt to for retailers to fine-tune operations and capitalize on these recession-driven trends identified by Grant Thornton:

•Buyers are choosing clicks over bricks. Consumers may not be buying much, but online sales have suffered less and, in certain categories, grown more than in-store sales. Retailers also are using social networking sites to expand their business.

•Private labels are gaining ground over name brands. Private labels are especially successful in groceries, with 9 percent of consumer packaged goods now private-label brands. Retailers should consider whether their products may be suitable for private-label treatment.

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