I started in retailing during the last recession in 1991, and will never forget the day the Chancellor panicked in protecting sterling and increased interest rates to 15%. Had the rates stayed at that level I wouldn't have survived. It taught me a lesson that has stood me in good stead over the years.

Now we are told we are entering another recession, although how that will affect us we have yet to see. I haven't witnessed a downturn in trade, but there are many factors to consider. While customers have had less to spend due to rising energy and fuel costs, we have gained trade at the expense of pubs and restaurants and many customers are shopping daily with us for essentials rather than doing a big weekly shop at the multiples. Rising prices have also helped turnover as most core lines have shot up, bread and milk in particular.

My customer base is primarily middle- to lower income and to date they haven't been affected. Interestingly, with interest rates dropping and fuel prices also starting to fall they have an increased disposable income.

I will simply be very cautious over the next year, keep a tight rein on expenditure and hopefully come out unscathed.

On a rare Saturday night off, I attended a town centre bonfire parade and was shocked at the number of youngsters drinking and openly carrying cases of beer. It made me laugh when I heard about the multiples' proposals to have separate tills for controlling the sale of alcohol to the underaged.

If government wants to make an impact on binge drinking, stop selling beer so cheaply. If kids have £10 to spend on alcohol, will they come to me to buy 10 cans, or a multiple where they can buy 20 cans? And which purchase will get them more drunk and more likely to commit an anti-social act?

They will still go to the supermarket and simply get someone who is old enough with ID to make the purchase.

Topics