This Christmas your present, as an independent retailer, should arrive on Christmas Eve. It will hopefully come in the form of the extra trade you’ll get once the grocery multiples shut their doors, typically at 4pm. And that is, of course, because of our Sunday Trading Laws and the fact that Christmas Eve falls on a Sunday this year.

You can bet that loads of consumers haven’t twigged this yet. They’ll be so used to being able to rush around on Christmas Eve, picking up their last-minute bits, that they won’t have considered that their beloved superstore won’t be open all day and into the evening. The big stores get just six hours opening on Sundays and most stick to 10am to 4pm. That means anyone turning up after 4pm is going to be disappointed.

Every year I bleat on about displaying your festive opening hours, and this year it’s more important than ever.

Even though you might have a permanent sign up that says ’Open 24 hours’, these can be overlooked as being just part of the furniture. I always remember an old cartoon of some would-be robbers sitting outside a 24-hour convenience store waiting for it to open! Actually, it’s not always obvious nowadays whether a store is open or not. Low lighting is sometimes left on when shops are closed so it’s much easier to make it really obvious that you’re open, rather than risk losing sales. A festive sign on the door or near the till, spelling out your opening hours is ideal.

I’m one of those annoying people who likes to get all their gift shopping done before December as I can’t bear the free-for-all in the shops. However, food shopping is another matter. And, although I’ve ordered my turkey etc, there’s always that little niggle in the back of my mind that I might have forgotten something. Gravy or was it stuffing perhaps?

Then there’s petrol and remembering to fill up the car as we always go down the beach on Christmas morning. Knowing when my local forecourt and its shop is open is reassuring.

Anyway lecture over, I hope you have a great Christmas with lots of extra trade but some well-earned rest too.