The bank holiday weekend was fantastic thanks to the weather. I had checked the forecast a few days in advance and stocked up on products I thought would be popular. As soon as you know the sun is coming out, fresh produce and barbecues are key.
We had plenty of tray barbecues, barbecue coal, fresh meat, salads, fruit, ice cream and disposable plates and cups, as lots of people like to eat in the park.
My Leamington store also did well, but not as well as Headington, where we are the only store open after 4pm. There are more residents in Leamington, so bags of charcoal were more popular than the disposable trays.
Leamington was up £1,000 and Headington was up £2,000. This time last year I didn’t have my fresh chiller in Headington, and that made a real difference. You wouldn’t believe how many people came in, picked up a couple of items and then ended up grabbing a basket. In Headington, I have baskets by the entrance, and more by the dairy chiller. In Leamington, which is larger, I do the same and add a third siting by the alcohol.
At Headington, the Oxford Brookes students will be going home soon, and I’m hoping that the international students will be coming over like they did last year. The students love Rustlers burgers, chilli hotdogs and coffee – all the snacking and impulse products.
But what we’re missing is a breakfast offering. Cuisine de France (CDF) has a sausage and bacon bap and we’re going to run a deal offering ‘two for £2’ on coffee and breakfast baps. A coffee is normally £1.85 and the baps are £2, so it’s a good saving. CDF is giving me free stock for two weeks to get it started. It’s important for retailers to talk to suppliers and see what kind of offers they can put forward.
I have had a few objections to the 24-hour liquor licence I’ve applied for. Had it gone through straight away, I’d have got it cleared on May 7, but now I have a hearing to reason with the public. I will tell them I am a responsible retailer and that I don’t sell super-strength beer, I sell premium wines. Yes, we will sell to students, but we also have doctors and nurses nearby who work around the clock, so they may come in to shop in the early hours just because that’s when it’s convenient for them. I’m hopeful that I’ll get the licence.