“Summer Report 2018”
- Is our café a hero or a villain?
- “The battle for optimism and morale in retail”
- “Sustainable confusion”
- “What to do about January?”
- “Is the Christmas boom sustainable?”
So far this summer for us at Partridges it’s been about 1 Royal Wedding, 2 heatwaves and 3 Lions and apologies yet again for being about to use the W word (that is weather by the way)
However, it’s getting more difficult to avoid. We have gone from one of the coldest and longest winters on record to one of the hottest and longest summers. Talk about a game of two halves! In the first four months of the year our sales were 2.3% down compared to last year. 2.3% may not sound much but in light of the fact that all other costs have increased dramatically it really is something to worry about. April in particular was a horrendous month sales- wise.
Then, in May, we had a good spell of weather, the Chelsea Flower Show and a Royal Wedding and sales actually surpassed the same month last year – albeit by a photo finish. May 2017 was a good month so it was pleasing to be ahead even by a small amount. The Royal Wedding brought more visitors and related items sold well, gin sales rocketed and thanks to an Italian promotion we sold significantly more cheese and charcuterie than last year.
In June the long hot summer began, the 3 Lions were rampaging (and at times staggering) through the World Cup and the mood of customers, staff and even the Managing Director improved dramatically. Sales actually went up by 2.6% and it became the best June since our records began. Without being scientific this has to be down to the hot weather. Sustained good weather is like catnip to speciality food sales.
However, despite the World Cup bringing great enjoyment to England fans like myself, the effect it had on sales is more questionable. Undoubtedly alcohol, soft drinks, crisps and snacks all did well over the four-week tournament but when England played their matches sales were adversely affected. On the day of England’s first match against Tunisia sales were 9.2% down compared to the equivalent day last year. Against Panama 11.1% down, against Belgium and with qualification to the next round secured sales were 1.5% down.
Against Colombia in the next round sales were 0.8% down followed by 11.2% down against Sweden when a semi- final place was at stake. Overall the customer count averaged 2.5% down when England played these matches.
Annoyingly, whenever the golden eagle of rational thinking majestically soars in the sky you will find a fly in the ointment. So when England played their semi-final match against Croatia sales actually went up by 6.9%. Undoubtedly it was the exception that proves the rule and it must have rained last year as well -but it is still surprising.
So at present our sales stand at 0.9% down compared to last year. Good weather is forecast for the weeks ahead and we might, with luck, be able to turn the negative sales drop into a positive sales increase for the year which will be a major achievement bearing in mind everything that is going on.
So, although football isn’t coming home this summer, footfall just might be.