Creating a point of difference to drive sales in store needn’t cost a fortune…unless of course you want it to. We’ve identified some premium investments, and their budget counterparts, to help you to improve your business whether you have cash to splurge, or if you’d rather save.

Staff clothing

Staff clothing SPLURGE

SPLURGE: Staff uniforms

Give your staff a more professional appearance and promote your brand with a smart new uniform. Uniform suppliers, such as Simon Jersey, offer a range of smart unisex shirts ranging from £3-£20, trousers from £9 upwards, and fleeces from £10-£25 each. The firm charges an initial set up cost of £20 if you want to add a logo to shirts, and then £3.99 per shirt. Savings can be made if you print in bulk.

Staff clothing SAVE

SAVE: Branded aprons

Staff at The Shop at Strood Green keep costs down by wearing their own dark shirts and trousers with green branded aprons. Smart full-length ‘bib’ aprons are available from a variety of stockists from about a fiver. Some stockists offer customised printing options within the region of £3 extra per shirt. This cost reduces if you order in bulk.

Coffee to go

Coffee to go SPLURGE

SPLURGE: Barista-style coffee machine

An in-store bean-to-cup coffee machine can add a real touch of theatre to your store, while pulling in valuable footfall and tasty profit margins. Some suppliers, such as Tchibo and Costa, may offer you the machine for ‘free’ on the basis that you agree to share a certain percentage of your profits with them, but if you want to reap all the rewards yourself, then you could well be looking at a four-figure sum. Costcutter retailer Sat Deo in Wath, South Yorkshire, spent £2,500 on his Franke Flair bean-to-cup machine and says it is worth every penny. Franke Flair claims that if a store sells the drink at £1.50 it will make £1.10-£1.22 per drink.

Instant coffee machine SAVE

SAVE: Instant coffee machine

For just over £250 you can bag yourself a Nescafé & Go vending machine, which comes complete with a starter kit worth £25 including sleeves of Aero hot chocolate, Nescafe Cappuccino, Gold Blend, white coffee and lids, sugars and stirrers. Each cup is individually foil-sealed and retailers can make an average of 60p profit per cup, claims Nestlé. It also contains a free paper POS kit.

Energy-saving chillers

Doors on chillers SPLURGE

SPLURGE: Doors on chillers

Halve your energy consumption and maintain a better in-store temperature by retro-fitting PVC or glass doors onto your chillers. Payback tends to take between three and five years, but other benefits include reduced shrinkage and a more upmarket appearance. Fitting doors on a 3,750mm cabinet costs about £1,200 excluding VAT, according to DCI Refrigeration.

Chiller strips SAVE

SAVE: Chiller strips

PVC strip curtains, as seen (left) at Sanmugalingam Pirapakaran’s Mace store in Victoria Dock in London, can cut your chillers’ energy usage by about 50% and prices tend to centre around £60 a metre, according to DCI Refrigeration.


Fish counter SPLURGE


SPLURGE: Fish counter

A wet fish counter, as seen here in Conrad Davies’ Eurospar in Dolgellau, Conwy, is certainly eye-catching. Conrad’s 1m counter cost £3,000 to install, including a back-up fridge and an ice machine, which he bought second-hand while the stock to fill the counter costs an additional £300-£400.

Freshly frozen fish SAVE

SAVE: Freshly frozen fish

A freshly frozen fish range, as seen (top right) in Dane Vanstone’s store in St Ann’s Chapel, Devon, is a cheap yet effective way of introducing fish to your store, and long use-by dates mean a much lower risk of waste. Freshly-caught fish is frozen at sea before landing at main UK ports. A 1kg bag of skinless cod fillets, for example, can cost about £6.


Chillers - SPLURGE

SPLURGE: New chillers

Shiny new chillers can give your store an instant facelift, lending it a smarter appearance. A new 3,750mm open-fronted cabinet, excluding delivery and engineering, costs about £3,200 says DCI Refrigeration.

Chillers - SAVE

SAVE: Re-conditioned chillers

Give your existing chillers an instant makeover with the addition of new trim, as seen at Hunt’s Spar store in Penwortham, Lancashire.


Curry - splurge

SPLURGE: Curry takeaway

Bag hot sales with a curry takeaway service, such as Binny Amin’s offer from his Londis store in Blean, Canterbury. Dishes are supplied to Binny frozen by Country Choice at a cost of £1.45 each, including rice.

Curry save

SAVE: Curry components

Inspire your shoppers to cook curries at home by displaying ‘take-away’ bags, as seen here in Linda and Dennis Williams’ Premier store in Edinburgh. The bags contain ingredients already for sale in the store, such as onions, jars of curry sauce and chicken breasts, so the only additional cost is a 10p paper bag, says Linda.

Baked goods

Baked good - splurge

SPLURGE: Bake your own

Offer your shoppers hot and tasty food to go with a countertop ‘Hot Spot’ unit, such as this one from Country Choice. A basic equipment package offering an oven and a small range of hot savoury pastries costs £1,600 to buy outright, but can be offered ‘free on loan’ subject to certain conditions.

Thaw and serve

SAVE: Thaw and Serve

No on-site oven? You can still offer your customers a range of treats to go with a ‘thaw and serve’ offer such as that from Country Choice. Frozen items such as cookies (pictured) and muffins can be ready to serve within three hours.

Alcohol display

Alcohol wine cellar

SPLURGE: Wine cellar

Create a corking first impression with a makeover of your store’s wine section as seen (far right) at Malcolm’s Store in Coventry. Brothers Paul and Pinda Cheema spent just over £4,000 giving the area a more premium feel by creating a drop ceiling, fitting spotlights, and adding dark wood flooring.

Alcohol barrel

SAVE: Barrels and boxes

Recycle an old wine barrel or clean old wooden wine crates to create an impactful and authentic-looking wine display, as seen here in Clive Mortimer’s Cork and Fork store in Yatton, Somerset. Used oak wine barrels are available online, with prices starting from £60.

Shelf-edge labelling

Shelf-edge labelling

SPLURGE: Upmarket shelf-edge labels

Simply Fresh stores use these chalkboard panels to add an instant touch of class to shelving units. Similar packs of 20 A8 double-sided chalkboard panels are available from a variety of stockists for about £11. White liquid chalk markers cost about £2, while the clear plastic card holders can be snapped up for 65p for 10.

Shelf edge labelling

SAVE: PVC shelf-edge ticket holders.

Lower cost point of sale solutions such as these PVC ticket holders can still display your printed or handwritten price labels in a professional and flexible way. Packs of 25 PVC 6x3 shelf-edge labels can be purchased for £10.50 from UK Point of Sale, as well as a variety of other suppliers. Individual unit prices tend to reduce for volume orders too.


Light tunnels - splurge

SPLURGE: Light tunnels

Reduce your reliance on electric lighting and create a more uplifting atmosphere in store by retrofitting light tunnels into your roof. Seen here (above left) in the Proudfoot Group’s store in Seamer, North Yorkshire, light tunnels diffuse daylight, creating a warm and even glow that limits the transference of heat or cold. A 375mm unit can light around 20sq m and costs on average £800 to be supplied and fitted, according to Solar Spot.

Clear windows - save

SAVE: Clear windows

De-clutter and clean your windows to let the natural light filter in. Without regular maintenance of windows, skylights and artificial lights, light levels in stores can fall by as much as 50% in just three years, according to Npower’s White Paper on small business energy consumption. Many of the next generation stores designed by the leading UK symbol groups use large, clear windows to maximise natural light and encourage shoppers to look inside.•