It’s been a tough summer down in Sussex with the lack of sun. We really didn’t see any significant sales uplifts and, coupled with fact that nearly everyone seemed to take an extended holiday away from home, it has been a quiet couple of months.

It is becoming harder to predict what sales we can expect from week to week in both our stores. We are seeing a consumer and market that is changing before our very eyes. Customers seem to be hopping from retailer to retailer, taking advantage of any special promotions or coupons available to them. Loyalty appears to be dead and now it is all about the best deal the consumer can get and where they happen to be when they decide they need to do some food shopping.

I speak to our customers a lot and there is a sense of resentment of any time they have to spend shopping, even our older customers. This helps us as local stores, but it reinforces my belief that our stores need to be more than just well stocked, clean and offer efficient service. We need to give shoppers more of an experience; guide them on what to eat; and make it all easily accessible in store so we don’t waste their time.

Food trending is big business; we have just got in Paleo food products, and protein energy balls, maple and guava waters are all selling well. We have also just added another 40 fresh premium lines into our ranges with huge success.

The customer thirst for product has not diminished, but it’s changing rapidly. Our challenge is to keep meeting it. I am excited by working with our new Booker partners to realise this and have been impressed with the level of commitment shown.