We made the most of the Sherston Boules Day

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Independent convenience retail

Summer 2013 may now be just a fading memory, but it is a season I will be delighted to recall. After the awful weather the previous year turnover was up more than 10%. We were very much helped by the hottest days being in July. The good people of Sherston tend to go away during the school 6 week summer holiday this leads to weaker sales in August than July.

One of the hottest day’s this year was 13th July, the day of the Sherston Boules Tournament. The Boules Day comes at the end of a week long Carnival and brings in a great many visitor to the village. With the brilliant weather this year there was a fantastic demand for cold drinks, ice creams and particularly barbecue products. Sherston is five miles from the nearest supermarket so being open into the evenings make us the only store for people having an unplanned barbecue.

The significant increase in trade doesn’t just happen; the right stock needs to ordered and staff hours adjusted. The Boules Day needs all our staff on board for that day as we normal see a 50% to 100% uplift in turnover above our average Saturday.

The Sherston Boules Day is a big event for the village and has been running since 1985. When I say big the high street is closed for the day as 16 boules pitches are laid out.  This allows the 128 teams that enter the event to compete in the knock out competition. The event has grown to be the largest boules competition outside France.

The challenge for Gail and me is to manage this peak in demand. As well as operating our shop on a high staffing level than another day of the year we sell soft scoop ice cream from a freezer on the pavement outside our shop. We hire the freezer from Marshfield, our main local ice cream provider and their package comes with umbrella and  flags. We supplement these with giant home made cardboard cones advertising the prices. Our big task was to decide how much ice cream to order. Taking a look at the very positive weather forecast we went big and were delighted that we did as by the end of the afternoon we had virtually sold out.

The 13th July 2013 will live long in our memories as it was the best trading day we have ever had. The turnover for the day was 150% more than our average Saturday. Absolutely brilliant!

Paul Mather
Paul recently moved premises from a 450sq ft shop to a 1,300sq ft former school a in Sherston, Wiltshire. He and his wife Gail developed the new unit from scratch. Their plans have ensured that customers enter through a large, welcoming store front and that disabled customers now have easy access to every category.

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