Turn Snow in to Money this winter!

Every winter brings the possibility of adverse weather conditions, which when extreme can cause widespread and prolonged disruption. This disruption can present an opportunity for local stores, so here are a few simple tips from our Retailer Advisory Panel to help you turn poor weather to your advantage!

With this winters long range forecast promising snow again for large parts of the country, it really is important that retailers are prepared to take full advantage of their unique position as a convenience store at the heart of their communities.

Organisations such as the Highways Agencies, BAA and Network Rail have all made plans for how they’ll deal with the bad weather, so that they can keep going. With delivery vehicles not able to reach stores and communities being urged not to travel, Partners for Growth recommends that all retailers do the same and take steps now so that they are best placed to continue to meet their customers’ needs even if the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Q&A with our Retailer Advisory Panel members…

“Looking back at previous winters and the chaos caused by the weather, can you say that the snow increased your takings?”

The members of the Partners for Growth Retailer Advisory Panel all felt that the snow which has fallen over the last few winters, has definitely increased their takings but only because they had the plans in place to capitalise on it.

Retailer Advisory Panel member, Mandeep Singh of Premier Singh’s, Sheffield said that the major challenge that retailers face is getting the stock in at the right time.  “Last winter, we were having calls from the delivery trucks saying they had the stock but couldn’t access the stores because of the roads.  Rather than go without, we arranged to meet them where they were, get the stock ourselves and drive it back through the snow to the stores in our 4 x 4 pick ups. We then use these to fulfil the Singh’s Drop orders instead of a normal fleet of vehicles. Whilst it costs us more, it’s all about making sure our shoppers can rely on us to get what they want, no matter what the conditions.”

Dean Holborn of Holborn’s, Surrey agreed about the importance of ensuring you have supplies, “Without stock you might as well shut the shop!  It is so important to be able to provide your customers with the essentials they are likely to have run out of – particularly bread and milk – as they are also likely to be stranded at home.  We were working 14-15 hour days, pulling in staff and friends to help.  It meant that we were exhausted at the end of the day, but it did result in £4,000 extra takings.”

For some retailers, the temptation to capitalise on the bad weather could be a tempting thought, but the Retailer Advisory Panel feel instead that it is an opportunity to prove their worth to the community and to demonstrate their values to new customers.  Mandeep Singh continues, “We kept all our prices at the same level, even though we had to take extreme measures to obtain supplies.  We considered the short term versus long term benefits and felt it was better to demonstrate that we were an honest retailer who could be relied upon, rather than capitalise on peoples’ vulnerability.  This approach has definitely brought new customers for us in the longer term.”

The Partners for Growth Controller, comments, “Winter 2023 is predicted to bring storms, flooding, and heavy snow to much of the UK, so we urge all convenience retailers to keep an eye on the weather forecast and if the need arises, use their skills in planning and adaptability coupled with their determination to support their community, as it can only benefit their business in the long run.”

See our factsheet: What makes a successful retailer

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