1Andy Miles, Dike & Sons, Stalbridge, Dorset
“Over the past year, a lot of things have changed, with energy bills skyrocketing and prices going up. We’ve usually represented ourselves as a cross between Waitrose and a farm shop. and we’ve got a good higher market range of products. Over the past year, however, we’ve been introducing more cheap-and-cheerful products because that’s what people are buying more of at the moment.
“We’ve been visiting other wholesalers and cash and carries, and we’ve found good biscuits we can get for £1. Even with Christmas coming up – a time when we don’t like to get in cheap goods because you want to be making your customers trade up at Christmas – we were so nervous that we’ve continued to get massive deliveries of products from the cash and carry, and sales are not slowing down. That says a lot about the current situation. We want to give the customer the choice this Christmas.”
2Zaf Iqbal, Zafs Go Local, Ancoats, Manchester
“This year it’s been about getting hold of stock. Some places will have it and some places won’t. We’ve focused on making sure everyday things like milk, bread, butter and eggs are always fully stocked.
“That means looking around for things. For two or three months, we couldn’t get bottled water from the cash and carry, so we had to look around and stock up when we could get hold of stuff. We’ve expanded our supplier base as well. I used to use two cash and carries, but now it’s more like four or five. We get 60% of our stock from Parfetts, but they’re happy for us to buy from other places. They’ve looked after us.
“We’ve rented out a new space for holding stock because our stockroom couldn’t hold enough. I’ve got about £15,000-20,000 of stock in reserve. It keeps us going and makes sure we’ve got what the people need.”
3Ricky Dougall, Nisa Millennium, Coventry
“The past 12 months have been completely different to 2021 and 2020. With the lockdowns ended, we’ve seen customers start to drift back to supermarkets and sales did drop off in the community stores. But in the high street, sales have picked up because people are on the move again. Events like Christmas, Halloween and Bonfire Night did really well for us, but the period between January and summer was really tough.
“Customers are very wary of where they’re shopping now and the low-cost supermarkets are getting more involved and picking up trade. We’ve seen so many price increases this year and it will only get worse next year. It’s been across the board, so it’s not just convenience stores who have been affected. It means consumers are used to it and expect prices to be high. We need to work with our profit margins, which means we’ve had to sacrifice competitiveness to a certain extent.”