Our store in Headington is all decked out for Halloween and we’re hopeful for good sales. The problem with Halloween products is that they generally don’t sell until the last minute, but thankfully that’s not true for Christmas lines, where sales are really good.
I received Christmas stock during the third week of August and 75% has gone already, with the big confectionery tins selling well. I think people are buying little and often for Christmas, rather than leaving it all until the end, so sweets are selling now and I expect spirits to move in December.
Another success is with the National Lottery. I think all retailers were wondering what would happen when the ticket price went up to £2, but it looks like we have all gained from it. In my experience people are reluctant to give up their numbers for the sake of an extra pound, so ticket sales are about the same, meaning our profits on the category have virtually doubled overnight. Fair play to Camelot, they did a great job with all the pos, in-store marketing and advertising.
In my last column a month ago I said my big worry was M Local moving in nearby, but surprisingly the unit is still closed. It was supposed to open three weeks ago so they have obviously hit a snag – they still have a poster in the window advertising for staff so perhaps this is the problem.
So we’re just carrying on, and I’m doing everything I can to make sure our staff are well-motivated and happy. We’re open until midnight and the team is keen for us to make the step up to 24 hours, but we need to do it right; I’m doing all the training and preparation necessary so that everything’s in good order for when we do.
I’ve just returned from a trip to Chile with a group of Londis retailers, and it was brilliant. The aim was to improve our knowledge of wine and to have some good productive conversations with the winemakers, and it’s really shown me that there is a lot more we can do.
Having made the trip, it’s my job to pass on the knowledge to the staff. I’ve got pictures of me outside a winery and we can turn it into a story for the store. By saying I’ve been to Chile, seen the vineyard and tried the wine, I can make it a personal recommendation for customers.”