Andrew Whyte, who runs Prees Post Office and Village Stores in Shropshire, asks: “Has anyone else experienced this conundrum? Our tobacco sales are 1-2% down, but our overall sales (and therefore margin) are well up!”

He wonders: “Is it that, as tobacco becomes more expensive, more are turning to illicit tobacco, but then have more cash available for discretionary spending?”

It was mid-November when he posed this question so he added: “It’s too early for any significant Christmas effect, but the last couple of weeks we have had our best ever sales.”

Having said that, he said he was also getting a number of customers saying “you’re cheaper than Tesco/Sainsbury’s on these” so he concludes that “maybe consumers are just getting savvy about being ripped off by the big boys. I’m stumped for a real reason - must just be we are such nice people!”

I’m sure that’s part of it, but on the day that Andrew got in touch I heard on the news that retail sales hit a 14-year high in October with volume up 7.4% from a year earlier.

Andrew’s comments were nothing but timely. Wouldn’t mind hearing yours.