I have never enjoyed October as a convenience retailer. It's the month when you finally accept the trading highs of summer are over and you have to prepare for winter and Christmas.
Opening at 5am to prepare the papers you become aware of the chill and the T-shirt and shorts are replaced by trousers and fleece. Any remaining summer-care products and BBQ charcoal are put away until spring, with a larger range of cold remedies and coal, logs and kindling taking their place.
It seems that the October blues are also affecting my shop and staff.
My DVD racking has fallen off the wall taking the plaster with it, two extractor fans are screeching 'replace me' and the rear lock on my van has broken. I have just ordered £1,000 of new screens for my CCTV system and the system itself needs upgrading, for which I am waiting for news on a Small Business Grant that I applied for otherwise it's another £3,000 outlay.
One of my managers was off with flu last week and I had to work three consecutive days of double shifts (5.00am9.00pm), clearly signalling the start of the staff 'runny nose' season and all the obvious consequences that always seem to come with it.
My new business rate valuation arrived this week as well as notification of new carriage charges from my news wholesaler. I haven't had time to look at them but the assumption is that they will both increase my outgoings. The media talks of recovery, and world stock markets are surging ahead, but I can't see where all the optimism comes from.
Until I start to see my customers spend increasing and those that are unemployed finding jobs, it's hard to believe things are turning for the better.
If I sound a bit gloomy, it's just that I don't like October!