Everyone’s gearing up for the promotional push in the lead up to Christmas, but it’s important not to forget to keep doing things for the community and making sure you’re looking after the elderly in your area.

Planning ahead is key. We always do a Christmas raffle every year and this year we’re going to do it before Christmas so we can raise money to buy presents for the children’s ward at the local hospital. It means we give something back to the community. 

Top tip

Christmas is a prime time to invest in staff training. There are more young people trying to buy alcohol, so it’s important that staff are all re-trained

We’ll donate prizes ourselves, but also try to get sponsors involved. Before, we’ve just done fundraisers for charities, but this year we’re going a step further to get presents and deliver them ourselves.

It’s a goodwill thing and gets customers on board as they see what we’re doing it for and what it’s all about. We put the results up on our noticeboard. 

Also, this time of year is a vulnerable time for the elderly. Are you checking to make sure your elderly customers are safe? Are they still coming into the shop? My staff get on really well with our customers and they notice when an elderly customer hasn’t been in for a while. They’ll ask around or pop over to their house to make sure they’re OK. 

It’s also a prime time to invest in staff training. We get our external staff trainers to make sure we’re retailing responsibly. At Christmas-time there are more young people trying to buy alcohol, so it’s important that the staff are all re-trained. 

These three things are important to me, particularly at this time of year.  

In the past I’ve made the mistake of getting swamped down in Christmas and forgetting or thinking about it too late, but for the last three or four years I’ve made a point of planning it a lot earlier so it’s something we don’t miss out on. 

It is early October, but it’s time to plan ahead. You can’t do all this in November or December. You have to plan ahead and be ready for it.