Linda Williams: Community spirit

Healthy choices

Posted by: Linda Williams Wed, 31 Oct 2018

Last month the Scottish government launched a consultation aimed at tackling obesity which contained a number of proposals that could have a significant impact on c-stores.

Clearly, making people overweight is not our mission, but as usual the retail sector is being cast as the engineer of social change, which is wrong.

From promotional bans on foods high in fat, salt and sugar, to restrictions on merchandising and product placement, the consultation includes proposals which have the potential to really damage small community stores such as ours.

Despite our best efforts, sales of fresh and chilled products have been hit hard since a new Aldi opened its doors just a stone’s throw away, meaning that we are now more reliant on sales of confectionery, crisps and food to go than we were before.

However, we are implementing new initiatives to help combat the obesity problem that won’t damage us in the process.

We have signed up to the Scottish Grocers Federation’s Healthy Living Programme, which has provided us with a host of support in stocking and promoting healthier products in store.

Highlighting healthy options, offering free fruit for kids, and healthy recipe ideas, are all ways in which we are working to help consumers make healthier choices.

We are also focusing on our food-to-go offer and always offer free salad with any roll or wrap, and cook two different hot vegetable options a day.

The real key to tackling the obesity crisis is offering shoppers the choice to make healthier purchases, it shouldn’t be up to us to force the change for them.

A sizzling summer

Posted by: Linda Williams Tue, 14 Aug 2018

The summer of 2018 will certainly be one to remember. With record-breaking temperatures, the Royal Wedding and the Fifa World Cup having taken place, it’s pretty fair to say that May, June and July have been pretty good months for our sector, with many stores recording positive sales and footfall results.

With the warm weather still gracing us with its presence, August looks like it’s also shaping up nicely.

However, that’s not to say it’s all been plain sailing. The conditions have also created something of a perfect storm for availability.

Shortfalls have appeared in a number of categories as heightened consumer demand could not always be met by the wholesalers and suppliers, who don’t seem to be carrying quite as much stock as they used to. Presumably they are attempting to keep costs down in the same way that we retailers do.

Availability of soft drinks, beer and cider has been particularly challenging at times, and certainly not helped by the current CO2₂ shortages.

With hot weather such as we are currently experiencing looking more and more likely to become the norm in the years to come, there are clearly some lessons that need to be learned.

As a starting point I would say that retailers would do well to pay much closer attention to the long-range weather forecasts, while suppliers and wholesalers need to put better contingency plans in place.

In any case, it’s all a good learning experience and I’m already looking forward to the summer of 2019 with anticipation.

A cloudy picture

Posted by: Linda Williams Wed, 16 May 2018

It’s been almost two weeks since Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) came into force in Scotland and the picture is still as cloudy as the bottled lager and cider on our shelves.

The first thing to note is that, for us, the 3ltr bottles of  super-strength Frosty Jack’s cider are now a thing of the past. Formerly priced at £3.50, the same product now costs £11 under MUP, putting it out of reach for many.

Interestingly, the impact on 3ltr bottles of Strongbow hasn’t been nearly so pronounced. The price has gone up from £3.49 to £5 and the PMP has been removed, but so far sales appear steady.

Despite our best efforts to communicate the changes to customers, with POS and plenty of till talk, it was still amazing how many people had no idea about MUP when it came into force. Initial reactions ranged from fury to downright confusion, but the team did a fantastic job of explaining that the law had changed and that shoppers wouldn’t be able to buy products cheaper elsewhere – not even the nearby Aldi.

I suppose that’s one of the positives of MUP, that we are now all on a level playing field. However, the impact of cross-border shopping and the illicit trade remain to be seen. We’ll get a much clearer picture when we do a detailed analysis of sales in about 12 weeks. It’s certainly going to be an incredibly busy period for the local enforcement agencies who, I gather, have received no extra funding.

Our focus now will be on continuing to educate shoppers and provide our usual high standards of service as well as focusing on our point of difference, notably the deli which is becoming more popular by the day, and our coffee to go.

Holding our own

Posted by: Linda Williams Thu, 19 Apr 2018

Last week saw the end of the financial year, and it’s fair to say we were slightly anxious to see how we finished up, given that a new Aldi superstore opened on our doorstep in November.

We were relieved to find that we ended the year up 3% in sales. Certainly the past few months have been tough. It’s hard to take when you see your one-time regular customers coming in with a bag of Aldi shopping in each hand, and asking you for a scratchcard or a packet of cigarettes. Loyalty is a fickle thing, and while we have retained many fiercely loyal customers, just as many have followed the lure of the new kid on the block.

Our almost year-long preparation has been the saving of us. Without the changes we have made, and especially without our new Premier Deli concept, those figures would have told a different story. It is still a battle for every customer, but we have turned a corner and are starting to feel tentatively optimistic.

Without the support of our symbol group, Premier, I don’t think we could have done it. In these increasingly tough times, we need every ounce of help we can get. We don’t all have an Aldi as a near neighbour, but we are all facing spiralling costs and finding it harder to generate the increases in sales we need just to pay the bills.

Not since the crash has there been such uncertainty and so many big players going into liquidation, and it sometimes seems to me that those who talk of economic recovery are living in a different universe entirely.

So for us it’s cautious optimism and taking nothing for granted; it’s tough out there.

All systems go

Posted by: Linda Williams Wed, 15 Nov 2017

We have finally finished getting the store ready (or as ready as it can ever be!) for the opening of our new neighbour, Aldi, at the end of this month.

We have scrutinised every department and tried to be clever about it. We’re not going head to head with Aldi; instead, we are trying to complement the new store and to really shine in the areas where it will be weaker.

Our new food-to-go kitchen is a big part of that, and we hope to attract many of Aldi’s customers into our store for breakfast and lunch options.

But the way we really can beat Aldi hands down is by going all out on service and in-store theatre and activity, and with that in mind we are planning some great stuff for the festive season.

The Christmas jumpers will be going on, and we are going to do our very own Advent calendar. Every day we will announce a different product on deep-cut promotion for one day only, via our ever-popular Facebook videos.

We will also be giving out samples of lots of festive fare, including the alcoholic kind, and we have again invited our local school choir to come and sing carols outside the store.

This is always a really popular event, with mince pies and mulled wine, and a selection box given out as 
a thank you for each chorister.

Dennis is already booked for four stints as Santa; he is in high demand, although he lives in constant terror of some small child recognising him and losing their faith in Father Christmas!

We will also be buying toys for the children at our local Sure Start scheme, some of whom wouldn’t otherwise be getting much. Busy times ahead, Aldi or no Aldi!

Healthy progress

Posted by: Linda Williams Wed, 30 Aug 2017

As a sector, we have moved long ago from the old “fags, bags and mags” image of local shops, but I sometimes wonder if our politicians and policy makers ever go into any of our stores, when I see the misconceptions they are still perpetuating, and the measures they want to introduce to try to improve the health of the nation. Yes, we sell confectionery, cigarettes, alcohol and high fat foods, but last time I looked these were all still legal products, and it’s not as if we force our customers to buy them.

What we ARE doing, and doing better all the time, is providing healthier choices alongside the more traditional offerings, whether it be fresh fruit and vegetables, meat from local butchers, or lower sugar variants of well-known products. There is an increasing demand for “lifestyle” products too, such as protein drinks and bars, not to mention vaping.

In Scotland, we are lucky to be supported by the Healthy Living Programme, which provides practical support for retailers who want to take an active role in changing the diets of their customers: activities such as Healthy Eating Days in store, Healthy Breakfasts in schools, and the Fruit Club loyalty card scheme have helped us all develop our profiles within our communities. We are definitely doing our bit, as are manufacturers and suppliers by reformulating products in accordance with new government guidelines.

What is seldom addressed by politicians is that it is ultimately down to individuals to take responsibility for their own health through diet and exercise. That doesn’t make a good sound bite though, does it?

Decision time

Posted by: Linda Williams Fri, 26 May 2017

Politics never used to be something that I thought about much in relation to our business, other than in a fairly general way at election time, when considering issues such as tax, unemployment, the NHS and so on. However, in the past few years it has become impossible to divorce politics from the day-to-day running of the store, such has been the burden of legislation pouring down on us from Westminster, Brussels and Holyrood. 

Even before the calling of the snap General Election, it was a daily topic of conversation, as so much of what we do is impacted by new policies, and every new investment or recruitment has to be scrutinised through the prism of possible new legislation. 

Costs have been spiralling, and much of that is directly down to new law: National Living Wage; [Pension] Auto Enrolment; rates revaluation; and licensing regulations. None of these bring us more business, only more costs. Now we are starting to see inflation having an impact, and we have the hugely costly and disruptive Deposit and Return Scheme lurking in the political background.

So it has never been more important who we vote for, yet it has never been harder to decide. All of the parties support an increased living wage, many citing at least £10 an hour, and in Scotland we have ‘indyref2’ as a factor.

Faced with no party that we can fully endorse, Dennis and I have decided that we will be voting for our sitting MP; we know him well, he is hardworking and helpful, and we have a good working relationship with him. 

In the end, don’t people always vote for people, not parties?

Roll on September

Posted by: Linda Williams Wed, 10 Aug 2016

Summertime, but unlike the song, the living ain’t easy. While many parts of Britain bask in sunshine, it’s always a bit more unpredictable up here in the north and a sunny day can be a rare and special thing. It’s frustrating, as we all know sunshine can put hundreds of extra pounds through your till each day.

So far it’s been a poor summer in terms of weather for us in Edinburgh, and sporting events so far have failed to inspire. Despite lavish displays for the Euro Football Championships, we saw 
very little in the way of incremental sales, so we are hoping for better from the Olympics, although there will never be the buzz we had for London 2012.

As well as weather, location also plays a huge part in summer sales; if you are near a school, you instantly lose hundreds of customers for six weeks. Also, a lot of your regulars disappear on holiday. If you are in a tourist spot, clearly this is your time, but I think it’s easy to forget that summer can be a quieter time for many local stores.

We have brought in a slush machine for the first time this year, and sales have been very good, but it will be interesting to factor in the energy consumption of both that and the ice cream freezer at the end of the season, as some days they most definitely do not pay for themselves.

So we are looking forward to our local schools going back shortly, and we have lots of activities planned to kick-start the new season, including a mini-relaunch week in September, with lots of special offers, a face painter, free barbecue, and a trolley dash competition.

It will be good to get back to normal!

Summing it up

Posted by: Linda Williams Fri, 1 May 2015

As regular readers will know, we like to work closely with our local primary school, and this has mainly taken the form of projects around healthy eating and exercise. However, before Christmas I had a conversation with a teacher who mentioned that she had been given a project for the year, around numeracy. My ears pricked up immediately; numeracy and shops, a perfect partnership.

I told her we would like to be involved in some way, and we came up with what we have called the Pebble Challenge. Every primary school-aged child who comes into the shop is ‘challenged’ at the till; the littlest ones have to tell the staff how much their item costs, reading the numbers from the shelf-edge label; older children have to add up their purchases and ‘beat the till’; additional points are available for those who can work out their change, or tell us how much an individual item costs as part of a multi-buy. Correct answers get a pebble from a box we keep under the counter; the kids take the pebble back to their classrooms, where each class has a jar to fill on the teacher’s desk.

At the end of the year the class with the most pebbles is the winner, and each class member will receive a £5 voucher to spend in the store.

This has really captured the kids’ imaginations, and the competition is fierce. They are coming in more often, dragging in mums and dads who don’t normally use the store, and we can really see the improvement in their mental arithmetic. Parents are really appreciative of our efforts.

All it takes is a bit of staff participation and time, but the reaction has been fantastic; I would urge you to give it a go!

Taking the message to government

Posted by: Linda Williams Mon, 12 Jan 2015

This has been an important month for the convenience sector in Scotland, as the Scottish Grocers Federation held its first ever parliamentary exhibition at Holyrood. With the help of retailers representing Spar, Nisa and Premier, we engaged with over 80 MSPs over a three-day period, showing them the facts about our sector in Scotland. Not only is it worth £3.7bn to the Scottish economy, it also creates 42,000 jobs while each store reinvests an average of £341,000 directly back into its own local community.

It's fair to say that the vast majority of those MSPs we talked to were pretty taken aback by those figures. While they all recognised the value of a local store to its community in a social sense, very few had any idea of the amount of money we re-circulate directly back to local suppliers, tradesmen, professional services and other small businesses -  particularly in comparison to supermarket chains.

The response we had was overwhelmingly supportive, and cross-party, with many of the MSPs expressing a desire to spend some time in their own constituents' local stores, to hear the story "from the horses mouth".

There is concern about supermarket dominance and diminishing diversity, and it was really heartening to get such a positive response from everyone we spoke to. We were lucky enough to speak to all the party leaders, and they are all interested in meeting with us to talk further about what measures can be taken to strengthen and protect our sector.

The next step is down to all of us. We are definitely pushing at an open door, and we all, across the whole of the UK, need to engage with politicians of all parties, local and national, and keep spreading the message.

A waiting game

Posted by: Linda Williams Mon, 3 Nov 2014

Well, after months of anxiety, strategy meetings, planning and writing letters, we have done everything in our power to stop an Aldi store being built on our doorstep. The date for objections closed last Friday, so now it’s just a waiting game.

We have to be sanguine, and accept that local opposition to a proposal is not always enough, but we have gathered significant objections from many different local organisations as well as individuals: the Local Amenity Group, the PTA from the local primary school, one of the bordering community councils (though not the other, alas), the Scottish Grocers Federation, our MSP and MP. We compiled a petition of over 400 names, and dozens of our customers and neighbours sent letters to the council, and we helped many more who were not confident writing themselves by composing letters for them to sign. Objections vary from the impact on existing local businesses, to the loss of green space, traffic concerns, and access for the disabled and mums with buggies. Even the Environment Agency has expressed concern over drainage.

In a final effort to explain to residents just how intrusive and inappropriate the scale of the development would be, we took a leaf out of Aldi’s own book, and held our own exhibition in the local library, using large mounted boards to demonstrate what we felt were the main issues at stake. Over 100 people attended, and 95% of them filled in feedback forms expressing their own objections, which we also forwarded to the planning department. What was most apparent on the day was that nobody had really any idea what the development would ultimately look like, until they saw the A1 blowup map of the proposal which we provided for everyone to study. That was a revelation, and changed many minds in our favour.

So the poor planning officer has a lot of stuff to wade through before coming to his recommendation - thereafter, the council planning committee will sit and make its own decision. We have learned a great deal about the planning process in Scotland over the last few months, and much of it is surprising and quite disconcerting. One conclusion that we have reached is that the process is very arbitrary, and that we as an industry need more protection from encroachment of big business into our local and neighbourhood areas, and, along with the SGF, we are lobbying hard in Holyrood to heighten awareness of these issues with MSPs, who ultimately are the only ones in a position to legislate to protect us.

This is probably the biggest issue many of us will face in the next few years, and we all need to get more politically active to bring about change if we are to stop the march of the big boys.

Building our defences

Posted by: Linda Williams Mon, 16 Jun 2014

We are gearing up for a manic few months here at Broadway Convenience Store.

Aldi is expected to submit its plans for a new store in the next few weeks and our action group is ready to start putting together objections on grounds of potential traffic congestion, neighbour nuisance, blockage of public access to local services, over-provision of licensed premises and such like. Our customers are also eager to get involved and we’ve had a constant stream of people asking what’s happening, and when they should start writing their protest letters.

We are also anticipating our store refit, which is set to take place in July. In the meantime, sales are fantastic. After 6% growth in 2013/14, the past couple of months have seen sales up by 22% compared with this time last year, and that’s even before we’ve done the refit. We think the rise can be attributed to a combination of two things: the Premier Mega Deals are definitely making us a destination store for good value buys; and removing the charge from our cash machine has brought in a lot of new faces.
These new customers are starting to shop here, too. It’s still small amounts at the moment, but that’s the way round we like it. Once they are in then you can work on basket spend.

So, if the worst comes to the worst and Aldi gets planning permission and builds its new store, at least we are doing everything in our power to get our business in as good a shape as we possibly can, because one thing is for sure - we’ll fight it for every customer with all the advantages a strong independent local business can muster!

Investing for success

Posted by: Linda Williams Tue, 22 Apr 2014

Having recently attended the National Convenience Show (NCS) and the Association of Convenience Store’s Summit, Dennis and I have returned brimming with ideas. There’s no doubt that events such as these really do inspire you.

The message from both the show and the Summit was loud and clear: chilled and fresh are driving sales in convenience, and that’s globally, not just in the UK.

Although we have what most stores would consider a pretty good chilled offering, we have decided to do a major refit, bringing the focus of the whole store on to this category. This will mean a big investment in chillers and a complete reorganisation as we are planning to bring the chilled and fresh food from the rear right to the front.

We are also hoping to create more space by drilling down into the sales of each department, and we are confident that we can eliminate a lot of slower-selling lines without damaging sales. This will be particularly evident in ambient grocery, where sales have slowed of late. The move should allow us to install an in-store bakery, something we’ve never had space for before.

Despite all our campaigning we are still faced with the prospect of an Aldi opening up a stone’s throw away. While it could be argued that it might be more sensible to watch the pennies, we think now is the right time to invest in our business. As scores of retailers have demonstrated, you can thrive alongside the multiples if you concentrate on your strengths, so we intend to present our customers with the brightest, most inviting environment we can, backed up by the excellent customer service which only a truly local independent can provide.

Fighting our corner

Posted by: Linda Williams Fri, 24 Jan 2014

Like so many other local retailers these days, we are now facing the uncomfortable prospect of a multiple competitor opening up on our very doorstep. In our case, the threat is coming from a new Aldi store which the company is hoping to build on two neighbouring pieces of land which recently came up for sale at the same time.

The land currently belongs to Edinburgh City Council and the Church of Scotland, and together would make a site of sufficient size to build a store. This is despite the fact that the council had previously earmarked the site for affordable housing. In addition, the congregation of the doomed parish church had lobbied hard to persuade the Church to only sell the land for use as a community amenity!

But of course as always, money talks, and of the eleven bids, two of which were for a housing option, Aldi’s was the highest by a considerable margin. All is not lost, however. The sale is of course subject to planning, and we are marshalling our troops to fight it on several grounds, including traffic, neighbour nuisance and licensing. Our MSP is also backing us to the hilt, and has leafleted 3,000 local homes on the issue.

Quite apart from the threat to livelihood of up to 14 local small businesses, this is an area of acute housing shortage. When a council property here becomes vacant, on average 500 people put in bids for it. The land in question could accommodate up to 70 flats, which would go a long way to helping residents of this community find a decent place to live.

So with political support from all parties, MPs, MSP and councillors, plus the two local Community Councils, the Association of Convenience Stores, Scottish Grocers Federation and the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, not to mention literally hundreds of local people, we will be fighting this all the way. Watch this space!

Festive spirit

Posted by: Linda Williams Mon, 4 Nov 2013

Well, that’s Halloween been and gone in what must be the quickest year I can remember! We had a shop full of mini witches, vampires and ghouls. It was all a bit chaotic, but the local children had a ball, and they are the customers of the future after all!

Halloween was pretty good sales-wise, but as usual not much sold until the last two days, which means that you need to keep your nerve! It definitely helps if you decorate the shop and create a bit of atmosphere.

So the next biggie is Christmas, and with Small Business Saturday falling on 7 December, we are planning to run an array of in-store activity on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The initiative, which started in the United States in 2010 has been hugely successful and we are really hopeful that it will be replicated in the UK.

Our own three-day event will not only help raise awareness of the importance of small businesses and especially convenience stores, but will also give our customers a bit of pre-Christmas cheer at the same time.

So, we are liaising with some of our suppliers to provide drinks (hard and soft), nibbles, and money-off coupons. We will also run our ever popular charity tombola, the proceeds of which will go towards “presents from Santa” for the children who attend our local SureStart scheme.

And for the little ones in-store we will have a “Santa’s Sack” of little presents to keep excitement levels up! It’s a great way of differentiating your store from the competition, especially at this time of year, which is so often just all about money. In the fight against the multiples at Christmas we can’t win on price, so we need to think a little differently! Now where did I put that Father Christmas outfit for Dennis…

Face time

Posted by: Linda Williams Mon, 3 Jun 2013

Earlier this week Dennis and I took part in a retailer round table event with five other good Scottish retailers, held by a major multinational supplier. This was a really useful exercise for the retailers, as we all learned a lot from each other, and hopefully the supplier took on board our feedback and will proceed accordingly.

But during the course of the afternoon, we got to discussing the value of reps on the ground, and even within that small group it was striking how different all our experiences and opinions were.

I know it’s a topic that has been covered in this magazine before, but I think it warrants a bit of repetition, if only for the massive opportunities that are being missed out there.

There seems to be a consensus on the companies that provide a good service, but as for the store-level worth of that, it’s entirely down to the quality of the rep who walks into your store, and that really does vary enormously. Bad experiences have caused some retailers to lose faith, and they prefer not to deal with reps at all anymore, and while it’s an understandable reaction, it seems crazy not to try to build up a good mutually-beneficial working relationship in order to increase sales for both parties.

We have worked closely with at least a dozen good companies, and even agency reps, on ranging, merchandising, planograms, product trials, sampling and tasting events, themed displays and in-store theatre; there is so much you can do to boost interest and activity in your store, which in turn keeps things fresh and interesting for customers, to keep them coming back.

However, we have also had very poor service lately from a couple of companies who had previously been very reliable, and, looking at sales, it is no coincidence that they are now losing skus from our range, as other brands which are better supported come to the fore. After all, I don’t care whose products I am selling, as long as they are selling well! It is very evident that in our store, at least, rep visits do make a measurable difference to what we are selling.

Of course, being in a city, we at least do get plenty of visits, and I know that is certainly not the case in more rural areas, which must be very frustrating for those stores. Equally, many companies are cutting back on what is a hugely expensive resource, and opting to provide advice online instead, which is fine as far as it goes, but how many of us have time to sit down and look at websites on the off chance that something we may see may help us? Perhaps I’m old-fashioned, but nothing can replace a face-to-face discussion; or perhaps I’m just biased, because I used to be a rep myself!

School breakfast

Posted by: Linda Williams Wed, 27 Mar 2013

A few months ago I saw a news report on TV which really alarmed me. An English local authority had started to provide free breakfast for schoolchildren because so many were arriving for class having had nothing to eat, a fact which was affecting their behaviour and concentration.

It started me wondering if this was a nationwide problem, and sadly it seems it is. The problem appears to be down to a combination of factors, not just poverty and social issues, but also a lack of time. Many working parents are short of time and breakfast has become a casualty.

As a result, Dennis and I approached our local primary school with an idea: a ‘healthy breakfast’ event for the whole school, letting all 390 pupils taste a wide variety of foods to get them re-engaged with the idea of breakfast.

So last week we set up tables in the school hall buffet-style, with fresh fruit, juices, fromage frais, wholegrain cereal, cartons of milk, 50/50 bread, and porridge with lots of different toppings. We were especially keen for them to try new things, and porridge with honey was the surprise hit of the morning, so much so that I had mothers coming into the shop the following day asking what had we done to their children, and where was the porridge section!

We work closely with the Scottish government Healthy Living Programme, which gave tremendous support for this event, providing a Healthy Living-branded T-shirt or lunch box for each child. They also helped us to source two final-year nutrition students, who spent time with each class the previous week, discussing healthy choices, so that by the time the children came for breakfast the healthy message was really getting through.

Our suppliers were fantastic in giving us product, with many also helping out on the day, and the event created a real talking point in the community. Hopefully, it will have long-term benefits for the children with even a few of them starting to eat a better breakfast. And we as a local store have made contact with our next generation of customers.

Celebrating longevity

Posted by: Linda Williams Fri, 22 Feb 2013

Everybody loves a birthday, and our store will shortly be celebrating its 30th (I wish I could say the same for its owners…). With just about every supermarket brand you could think of opening up around us over the years there have been a few times when we did wonder if we’d make it, which is why, upon reaching this milestone, we have decided to throw a big party.

The bash will not only reward our loyal customers, but hopefully attract a few new ones at the same time.

We are planning a week of special deep-cut promotions on well-known household brands, backed up by a daily raffle for a high-value prize, and lots of tasting and sampling sessions throughout the week, so that the store should be a real hub of activity. We have had great support from our wholesaler Booker, and many other major suppliers. And, of course, as it’s a party, we’ll be treating one and all to some fizz and a slice of cake on the day itself.

A lot of retailers we meet ask ‘Is all that work worth it?’, to which we can only reply, ‘Well, it works for us.’ Shop owners spend a huge amount of their waking hours in the store environment, and it can be all too easy to get stuck in a rut and let the store and its staff get stale. Planning events such as this keeps things fresh and interesting, not just for staff but also customers. Where else but in an independent store would you be greeted by cucumber sandwiches and Pimm’s for the Queen’s jubilee?

There is always an occasion you can play with, whether it be a local football derby, Burns’ Night, Wimbledon, Valentine’s Day, St Andrew’s Day (or Patrick, George or David).

So I would say to every store owner, pick an occasion, get your staff involved, speak to your suppliers about promotional support and POS, and get creative! If you can, get your reps to help you. You’ll be amazed what it can do for sales and your local profile. Word of mouth is a powerful thing and customers love to feel they are getting a little bit back.

Remember, you only get back from your business what time and effort you put in.

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