OPINION: How to get your store ready for a new year – Sophie Towers, One Stop Kibble Bank, Burnley

'Knowing your customers is really important at the moment because things are getting tougher for people'

New Year's Eve Big Ben London fireworks

While we do find that day-to-day shopping increases in January, the new year is usually quite a quiet time and is when we look closely at the store.

We take the opportunity to do a big stock take, clean everything out in the store, work through the stock that we’ve got and make a list of events that are coming up in the year so we can prepare for them. And this coming January will be an interesting one, with the World Cup and Christmas having passed and the cost-of-living crisis really coming into effect.

We still can’t be certain of how things will pan out, so we’ve got to use that time to look at sales, look at the products we should delist and make a bit of plan for what we’re going to do.

I don’t take as many risks in my store, but if I notice things aren’t selling properly, I move my promotions around and then they do start to sell better. Every change you make in store has a cost attached to it, though. You can take out products that aren’t selling, but that’s then wasted stock.

The other argument would be to leave that original stock there on the basis that if it’s there long enough, then people will buy it. If you invest in cheaper products, then people may come to expect you to offer cheaper options which can affect your turnover.

Knowing your customers is really important at the moment because things are getting tougher for people. One of the trends we’re seeing is that people are buying cheaper products across the board. Even in categories such as pet food, people are cutting back and buying own-label ones. That’s an investment we’ve got to make.

One thing that’s working for us now is price-marked packs. On soft drinks, we can sell cans at less than a 20% margin, but I’ve been seeing price-marked cans of Rubicon that offer 58% margin, cans of Irn-Bru offering 46% margins and then other bottles with 43% margin. That’s really high and it’s definitely a way that retailers can look at growing profits at a time when wages are going up.

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