Despite the fact that the temperature never rose higher than single digits, I’m thrilled to report that the store still managed to rake in almost exactly the same level of sales this Easter as it did last year when the weather was much more agreeable. We actually had a flurry of snow on Easter Sunday but despite the distinct chill in the air people were still keen to get outdoors, and amazingly the caravan park down the road was really busy. Fresh local products sold steadily over the three day Easter break and have continued to do so through half term week.

Premium chocolate eggs, I am also happy to say were big winners; amazing considering that just three years ago many of my fellow convenience retailers were convinced that the Easter eggs opportunity was now closed to us independents. In my store at least this trend is definitely reversing. The premium Easter Egg market is going great guns and I had actually sold out of all my Easter Eggs almost a week before the Bank Holiday. In fact I wish I’d ordered more, especially when the Masterchef presenter Greg Wallace  popped in to see if I had any left!

We are now well and truly gearing up for the summer, and with the store looking so good I’m desperate for the temperature to rise so we can see just how well we can do. One warmish week last August saw us take in almost £45,000, so I can’t wait to see what a genuine heat wave would produce.

However, given the fickle Great British Weather its almost impossible to predict when this might happen, making it vital that we are at the top of our game at all times and ready to make the most of any opportunities as and when they come.

Range reviews are key to this and I do them all the time. In my opinion you can’t afford to let your range get stale, or your shoppers will get bored.  You need to maintain that element of interest and surprise at all times, and local products are a great way of doing this. The fact that I get approached so often by new and innovative local suppliers is really helpful on this front. In-fact I’ve just taken on another one, a locally produced flavoured vodka called ‘Nip from the Hip.’

Attention to detail is also so important, and it’s the little things like scuffs and scrapes that can slip through the net as you get blinded by the daily grind. I know it sounds a bit like a cliché but it really is important to take the time to see the business through your customers’ eyes, and it’s something I really try to focus on at this time of year. A bit of extra attention to detail on merchandising can also make a huge difference, and it’s important to keep your staff motivated on this front too. I find it really helpful to take photographs whenever you have a really good in-store display so that you and your staff can be absolutely clear on what standards need to be maintained.