Fresh fruit is a real selling point for Nigel Dowdney’s Earlham Shopper in Norfolk, and he is surprised by the number of people who are willing to pay more for single items.

Nigel Dowdney

He says: “All our fruit is displayed at the front of the store so people can pick them up really easily. We also make a ridiculous amount of margin on them because people are quite happy to pay 65p for a single banana, even though the four pack is cheaper.

“It just shows that people want the convenience of having one to eat right away. Fruit is something we include in our food-to-go meal deals, which we try and keep as healthy as possible so we do things like a sandwich with a banana, orange or an apple.

“We have two schools close to us so we need to offer kids an instant breakfast and lunch option that they can quickly take away with them.

“Most of them come in early, probably because they have been sent on their way by their parents! This is why we offer them something healthy like a piece of fruit. We don’t include soft drinks in any of our meal deals because we try and avoid all the sugar-ladened stuff.

“I think our focus on healthy lines is appreciated by people in the local area and they know that we don’t sell their kids energy drinks unless they are over 18.

“We still stock a full range of sports and energy drinks but it is just reserved for adults. In my opinion, the soft drinks category as a whole has become quite confusing and the sugar tax doesn’t seem to have had the intended effect.

“The government haven’t stopped people buying drinks they have just confused them with different price points. I quite often get kids coming up to me wondering why the traditional Coke is more expensive than Diet Coke.

“Even as a retailer I find it confusing and I wonder where all this npd will end. The soft drinks brands have launched so many new lines that it is impossible to stock them all and the category has become too wide.

“I understand that npd is something they want to push but quite often that means we can’t concentrate on the best sellers and are stuck with products that just don’t sell.

“The new Diet Coke flavours are something we have in stock but they aren’t hugely popular. Nothing can really replace the regular Coke because they have spent so much time and money establishing it and promoting the product to consumers over the years.

“It is the same story in the laundry aisle with all these new washing-up liquids and detergents. You can’t stock a full range if you are a small store because it just won’t fit.”

Star performers: “Our focus on food-to-go and fresh products seems to be paying off and the store is doing well as a result.”

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