So it’s officially Christmas, the music is blaring in some shops and the battle of the Christmas TV adverts has begun, but more importantly we have had our annual ‘light up Hassocks’ event. What an event too, the biggest yet and our Christmas local food fayre went down a storm…helped along by our festive children’s balloon entertainer and hot chestnut stall!

I have found the last couple of years festive trading excellent but as always challenging and we have big question marks over this year. We have planned and planned as always and the store can only be described as ‘brimming’ with stock. We can really only sit back and wait for the sales to roll in but as always we are nervous about stock.

I have read that 5% of Christmas sales have already occurred, a statistic I would agree with and perhaps say was conservative in our store. Our biggest challenge is when do we stop ordering and say enough is enough?  At this point you realise that all the Christmas planning in the world will not give that magical answer - who thought being a retailer was easy?

I guess it comes down to us in the end and, as individual buyers for our stores, how risk adverse we feel. Me and my team will probably just keep pushing for that little bit more and keep topping up the store, hoping that the two-hour wait to get into the local Tesco car park will be a big enough deterrent.

The bigger issue for me is Christmas profitability. Selling lots of £5 chocolate tins and promotions is great for turnover but December’s bottom line is always tough to manage and with literally hundreds of offers across all categories that will only get harder. I think 2013 will be harder still, but as independents we can react quickly, and spot and take advantage of opportunities easier than some of our bigger competitors - we have to play to our strengths more so than ever!  

I genuinely hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas and a happy trading period and as difficult as it is in our sector, all get to spend some quality time with friends and family.