Even though September is over I do feel like we’re still in the summer. We’ve all enjoyed some good weather and I’m sure retailers will agree that we’ve enjoyed an air of positivity among customers and staff because of that.
The demand for soft drinks, ice pops, ice creams, barbecue items and suchlike has increased this year – way more than we’ve ever experienced. The supermarkets were running out of ice, and their refrigerators were going down. As retailers, we had to be prepared to step up and get those extra sales from people having poor experiences elsewhere. We had to make sure our staff were engaged with that and prepared to sell as well.
We trialled USB mini-fans that you can charge from your laptop or your cigarette lighter in the car for £10.50. They’ve sold really well. We sold a lot of sun cream, particularly when schools were issuing warnings saying that kids had to come to school with sun cream. We’re working on getting more fans in. Customers don’t expect it when they come into the store, so it creates a talking point at the till. The weather alone creates a talking point because we all like to complain about the weather.
Among the staff, we relaxed the rules a bit when we had that exceptional heat up to 40°C. We let them wear shorts as long as they had their Londis T-shirts on to help them feel they weren’t missing out on summer. We also gave them extra breaks to help them cope with the heat and revitalise themselves as well.
They’re saying there will be more hot weather this month, so we’ll be quite blessed in that regard. As long as the sun is shining, it gives customers the opportunity and excuse to have a barbecue or a picnic, and that’s when they’ll be using your store – for that momentary occasion.
With global warming, the heat this year has been phenomenal, but we’ve experienced it now and we should be that little bit more prepared for next year in terms of stocking up on the appropriate items. We’ve learned the lessons to get our products bought in and to ask customers for their input and opinions on what else we could be stocking.
Read more of our expert opinion on the independent retail sector