Dean Holborn, owner of two convenience stores in Surrey, is offering consumers plenty of traditional summer lines while recognising the growing interest in sustainable packaging.

Dean Holborn

He says: “Business has been good this summer. So far nothing has surprised us in terms of the products that are selling well. It tends to be the things that people can pick up for refreshment when the weather is hot that go well at this time of year.

“Overall, our sales seem to be holding up well compared to the particularly good summer of last year. We have noticed a bit of a drop in footfall in August but that is to be expected when people go away on holiday.

“However, the slight lull has allowed us to right a few wrongs in the stores and we’ve taken the opportunity to do a deep clean of all areas in the shops. Many of them are so busy at other times of the year that we don’t get chance to make them look their best.

“Things really start to pick up for us in the lead up to Bonfire Night when we do our own event that brings the whole village together. We already have a rough idea of what we want to do this year which is good because in retail terms it is only just round the corner!

“We’ve started to do some planning for Christmas too and have had discussions with our tree supplier so we are always trying to think ahead and introduce new things to the stores.

“It’s not always easy to change but one thing that is on everyone’s mind at the moment is sustainability so we as retailers need to recognise that people are concerned about packaging.

“Ever since it first kicked off with the David Attenborough programme, people have become very conscious of plastic waste. Like most stores, we have seen a decline in plastic bag usage because we charge for them but I think sustainability has affected pretty much every category in the stores. People aren’t necessarily buying less but they are drawn to alternative products.

“I think it is a debate that isn’t going to go away because the conversation about packaging has already gone on for pretty much the whole of this year. We are currently looking at compostable options for our coffee and slush cups.

“It can be difficult for a business like ours to source some non-plastic products. For example, we pack all our flowers in paper packaging but we still have to use plastic containers because they hold all the water in the plant for customers to buy them in a convenient way (see below).”

Star performers: “All the things that we would expect to sell well like wine and slush have done well.”