Over the last five years the gross profit of the business has fallen by more than 50%. Purchases over the last five years have not reduced quite as much but the net profit of the business has suffered significantly due to the fact that more manufacturer price marked goods have been introduced into the shop in order to be competitive. The advantage of these goods is that the prices are almost the same as any supermarket but the profit margin for the business suffers significantly.

The shop has been making a loss for the last five years and I have been personally supporting this loss in the hope that business may improve. The changes to the shop two years ago were not a success and sales have fallen by as much as 50% since the refit. Before trying to incorporate a coffee shop within the business I spoke to most customers to ask their opinion and the majority gave positive support. The reality is that the coffee shop is not used by the village but by passing cyclists and walkers.

This village shop is not alone struggling to survive in today's market.

So what affects a village's business?

  1. Obviously, competition from the big supermarkets not only in price and loss leaders but home delivery with decreasing minimum spends.
  2. More homes being brought as second homes leaving fewer people occupying the village.
  3. An almost non-existent bus service allowing customers to reach the village services."

Many customers use the shop to buy their daily newspaper but as we have seen with the Beaulieu shop there is little or no profit in the sale of newspapers, which again are in decline but of course the delivery charges by the supplier are set regardless of the number of papers delivered.

The village is lucky to have 3 businesses relying on local trade. A survey some three years ago had studied villages who have lost their local businesses and within a very short space of time had seen not only villages struggling to sell their properties but also an average of 10% drop in property prices. Not everyone has the convenience of a car and therefore those without would probably choose to move to a more populated area with services.

Ian Evans