Well, we are pretty much half-way through the year and sales have been kind in May and the start of June. As expected, the first period of prolonged warmer weather pushed sales up, and our team did an excellent job of planning and executing our  strategy for warm weather.

I took a gamble this year on expensive premium-flavoured charcoal and a large range of garden toys and accessories, and have been surprised to see sales of £1,000 in just over a week. It has also enabled me to have a ‘told you so’ smug grin around my management team, who were not impressed when they saw what I had purchased, but as ever they are coming round to my way of thinking!

Now with all our thoughts turning to longer warmer evenings, and in my case cold glasses of cider, it seems only fitting that our next management meeting after the Budgens cluster meetings will be focused around winter, and in particular writing our Christmas orders. Such is the perverse nature of the industry sometimes that we have our thoughts in at least two seasons at any given moment. It’s really hard doing Christmas orders in June, and it makes it harder when you know that seasonal-free order lines are few and far between. With so many lines on ‘pre-order only’ the pressure is on not to make a mistake.

I was a little gloomy last week when I read about Andrew Thornton deciding to leave his Budgens Crouch End store. As we operate in the same brand, and I share many of Andrew’s ideals around food sustainability, it did seem that the similar values that my business is based around were being challenged. It goes to show that competition is pretty unforgiving to all, no matter how strong a brand, and that whoever gets to own or run that business has a massive job trying to maintain it as a true community store.

So I end in wishing that everyone gets to spend some time out in the sun; we all work so hard and Mother Nature has been so cruel these past few years. I am off to the garden to sip some cold cider and order chocolate yule logs!