At the National Convenience Show, Julie Patterson, shop supervisor for a student union shop in Stafford, was looking for information on the subject for a management project. Specifically she asked what evidence is there of the benefits of conducting your own stocktake as opposed to using external auditors.

As I wrote to Julie, I don’t think there are many benefits to conducting your own stocktake as it is time-consuming (external auditors are quicker and more accurate and may cost less than your own time is worth) and you can’t necessarily trust staff to input correctly (especially if they have been pilfering anyway). Plus outsourcing to an external stocktaker is a tax-deductible business expense. The tax and VAT-man also prefer independent valuations.

I know many do take the DIY route - some as frequently as fortnightly so become as good as any expert - whereas others only take stock during a blue-moon phase.

Some go for the regular quarterly, and some annually. Some just base it on their accountants’ figures, sometimes with bad consequences such as when you come to sell your store and the spot-on proper stocktake reveals a big discrepancy between your supposed stockholding and the actual valuation.

But, as I also said to Julie, as my opinions are not based on empirical evidence (ie I have never run a shop) I would ask readers via my next column for their opinions and hope for feedback.

It will be too late for her deadline, but I think it is a subject well worth airing . We can all learn on this one so let me know what your preference is.