This morning saw the release of fourth quarter results from pizza chain Papa John’s. The chain, which opened another 24 stores this year and is aiming to hit 180 by the end of 2010, announced that its sales grew by 8.6 per cent this year.

The significance of these figures is down to one of the reasons that the company gave for the upturn. Speaking on the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning, Papa John’s managing director Ian Saunders said that on one night alone – that of the X Factor live final on December 13 – Papa John’s sales rose 14 per cent. The night was the company’s busiest ever Saturday night.

We’ve heard so much about the ‘Big Night In’ phenomenon taking hold, but these results really show first-hand the effect that it can have on sales. If a large company like Papa John’s is doing so well – and without specifically advertising against shows like X Factor itself – then there is no reason why smaller stores can’t also share some of the profits.

Big Nights In aren’t just about pizzas. Independent convenience stores should also have taken the chance to entice customers with displays of bottles of wine, snack foods and sharing bags of confectionery and crisps. Did you? If not, Papa John’s have shown that you might have missed an opportunity. It’s up to you to make sure you don’t again.

The opportunities really are there for everyone to grab a slice of the action.