C-store owners need to start limbering up now if they want to strike sales gold during London 2012

We are now fewer than three months away from a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ experience – something we will all surely remember for the rest of our lives. The relentless build-up to the Olympics has started – with TV adverts in every break, features in every newspaper and daily conversations around the water cooler.

We all know it’s big, but we should not allow familiarity to breed contempt here and lazily underestimate the scale of the event or the opportunity. This is much bigger than the World Cup, the Queen’s Jubilee or Charles and Di’s wedding. It’s much bigger than the ‘normal’ Olympics. Think about it. Every four years, we all watch the Olympics, but the difference this time is that it’s happening right on our doorstep.

This event is the ultimate in feelgood and will showcase inspirational performances by people from across the world all aiming to go higher, faster, further.

We should be showcasing what we do best too. We’d all love to get more customers into our stores. We’d all love to increase our sales. Well, here’s the perfect opportunity to do just that. There is no room for complacency – as retailers who underestimated and therefore le it too late to prepare for William and Kate’s wedding will attest.

The Olympic partners – including Coca- Cola, Procter & Gamble and Cadbury – are all working overtime in the build-up, as is the leisure sector and the gift and souvenir industry. We need to be doing the same.

This event is perfect for those of us in the independent convenience sector what with the months of sustained interest, potential for increased sales of impulse products, specialedition product launches from manufacturers, promotions and Olympic merchandise. It’s an ideal opportunity to generate a bit of fun with our customers in the shop and in the community, and it will be an additional boost to the usual increased sales of beer, wine and barbecue products during the summer.

And, while retailers in London and the Home Counties will have a eld day with the massive in ux of visitors, towns and cities outside the capital will also bene t as they too will be hosting Olympic events and training camps and generally taking advantage of the feelgood factor being generated.

So we need to be as ready as we can be for some unusual buying patterns – Olympic mugs, fridge magnets, caps, plates and other souvenirs, TV magazines, the products of the Olympic partners, the increased activity from their direct competitors, fresh produce and bottled water as customers focus on health and tness, ‘world’ products, paraphernalia for school activities such as ags, stationery and mascots.

It’s vital that you plan early, place your orders and get your deliveries in plenty of time. Once the Games are upon us, I predict pandemonium as stores run out of products and suppliers become overwhelmed by extra delivery requests. So the message is: ‘stock up early and concentrate all your e orts on selling the products through your stores’.

Think about having local producers create cakes, baguettes and pastries tailor-made for the Olympics and organise daily product tastings in-store.

Link in with the Love British Food organisation, whose British Food Fortnight coincides with the Games. Take a look at their website for some great in-store ideas.

Our decorations have already arrived to give the stores a di erent look, our sta are ready to dress up as athletes (the 118 118 guys, anyway) and we’ve got two of our people carrying the Olympic torch during the nationwide relay. Check the dates to nd out when the torch is coming through your area.

Think about what sort of in-store competitions you can run? One idea is to give away small cards at the till with ags of the countries taking part – when that country wins a gold medal, the consumer brings the card in and gets a 10% discount.

Finally – a word of warning – be careful not to breach the strict Olympic guidelines when it comes to advertising – take a look at the LOCOG website just to be on the safe side.

The key to it all is planning well in advance.