After a great Christmas trading period the stark reality of January is always sobering. Despite setting the store up with a strong value proposition, the ‘money tap’ has been well and truly shut off in Hassocks.
Sales have been up on the year, yet it’s never been so hard to get them through the tills. As a result, anyone who has been near me in the past month will no doubt have heard me mention the ‘S’ word more than a few times.
“All we need is snow to help things along” has apparently been my most quoted phrase, and my team, who had been avidly following the weather forecast, were all very excited when they were finally able to predict when the white stuff would descend on the village.
Our customers were equally excited, and the store was busy even before the snow started to fall. When it actually came, it went crazy!
With queues to the back of the store and an insatiable demand for bread, milk and soup (which quickly turned into an insatiable demand for pretty much anything on the shelves) a warm sales glow came over me.
January is a tough month in retail and the snow has just eased that pressure for us. The cash flow pinch point where we pay for wages, Christmas stock and loan repayment all in the same week has been made much easier.
I also think there are extra benefits, and I am always hopeful when we get ‘weather events’ that drive new customers into the store. These are customers who don’t shop with us normally, giving us an excellent opportunity to show off our business.
A good example was when I spoke to one lady during the snowy weather who asked me when we had refurbished (which was 2009) and couldn’t believe how nice it was. She said she would shop more locally now as she didn’t realise how much local food we stocked. This was despite a lot of local advertising and community engagement.
John Lennon tells us ‘all we need is love’. However, I agree with Dean Martin and say ‘let it snow, let it snow, let it snow’.