After an excellent Christmas, the January blues definitely set in for us in both our stores. This was certainly not helped by the dreaded opening of Sainsbury’s Local in Hassocks.

The week prior to it opening was incredibly stressful. All of your fears come to haunt you at once – usually at 3am. As I expected there was a negative impact on sales at first and I had built a number of new business plans based on worse-case scenarios.

Thankfully, the impact – while painful – was not as bad as we feared. However, it did cause a lot of comment on social media and we even came in for some criticism. One of the more interesting comments was that we were to blame for Sainsbury’s opening in the first place because we had won awards and highlighted the sleepy little village of Hassocks to it!

So we continue to ride the storm and concentrate on what we do best, which is to be great local retailers who care about the customers we serve, something we feel the new Sainsbury’s fails to deliver on. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow retailers for all the good luck messages. It can be an incredibly lonely time being faced with attrition so any positivity was greatly appreciated.

On a more positive note we are proud that both our stores have been shortlisted for the Convenience Retail Awards this year. Despite all the challenges of purchasing a new business and the turnaround that involved and running two refits (and moving house), we are delighted to get shortlisted. Congratulations to all those who have been shortlisted and we look forward to seeing you at the awards!