I’m in a library one thousand words into my Masters dissertation, but I’m thinking about the store, about footfall, about stock.
Like every other convenience retailer in the UK, I’m trying to balance my business and my personal life.
We’ve all walked into stores and seen the tiredness in the expression of the shop owner, and we’ve all been that shop owner. It’s an industry-wide issue, driven by long and often solitary hours, but it may be changing for a range of factors.
One is squeezed margins making owners reconsider that 60-hour week. Another is a new generation of shopkeepers coming through that are placing a higher focus on leisure time, whether that’s studying, travelling or just spending time with the family.
Both these factors are indicated by a couple of trends. Most alarmingly is an uptick of shops for sale in my area. More positively, it is shops that had previously decided their takings were too low to take on a staff member changing their minds.
More obviously, it’s the absence of this “new generation” of shopkeepers from cash & carries – they’d rather pay the delivery fee and have four hours of their day back.
Some may describe the latter two trends as being wasteful – “Why pay for something you can do?” but I’d describe them as financially astute, for how is a business supposed to grow if you don’t find the time to contemplate its growth with a little bit of distance from it?
How is a shop owner supposed to make the right decisions when they have so many other decisions on their mind? And how can you be a family business if your business makes you miss your family?
Affording ourselves this breathing space, even when we think the cost is too high, is vital in running a sustainable business.