Chris Mitchener from Licensing Solutions recommends keeping your staff training up to date

At this time of year, most retailers are planning and repositioning ranges, layouts and even priorities in order to maximise the potential for Christmas sales whilst keeping an eye on the other opportunities in November and December presented by seasonal events and inclement weather.

Following on from early peaks from family parties at the end of October and early November, alcohol and associated sales build significantly between now and Christmas with a solid sales increase in the 10-14 days before Christmas and then after for New Year. We ready ourselves for this by pre-planning and pre ordering and not just a little finger crossing but the biggest thing that should not be left to chance or fate is ensuring that all sales are made legally to people of age and sobriety!

We all do refresher training don’t we, but you should plan in refresher training for all staff in readiness for the Christmas and New Year regardless of whether your six-monthly or even three-monthly programme suggests it is due. Indeed, I think we should be looking at refresher training being diarised almost as a necessity before each school holiday, not just at Christmas, as we all know that more under age sales are attempted when schools are on break than not. Arguably the same could probably be said for test purchases, although I merely speculate on that !

And why are we saying six-monthly refresher training when that should be the maximum gap? Should we not view refresher training - on all age related sales - as a priority based on the business dynamic ? If more under 18s are in our stores our staff need to be protected from selling to them in error and training is the effective way of fulfilling this obligation to them and the community in general.

As a maximum, six-monthly refresher training is a must for all responsible retailers but like the 30 mile per hour speed limit, that should be the maximum limit and as when driving past schools. Reducing that limit when more youngsters are about seems to make a world of sense!