Denis Jordan has the heatwave and an uncharacteristic memory lapse to thank for an unexpected summer moneyspinner in his village grocery store in Trimdon, County Durham.

As the temperatures soared into the 90s Jordan decided to cancel his regular order for ready meals, thinking they would not sell.

But he forgot to contact his local supplier, the order arrived and, to his surprise, the ready meals quickly sold out.

Jordan believes sales were spurred by customers who did not want to spend time in the kitchen preparing a meal, especially if they had to use an oven for any length of time, which would add to the blistering heat.

Another success story, but this time well planned, was the dispenser for soft ice cream that Jordan bought in time for the school holidays. “That has been very popular,” he says. “The profit margin is good and it has helped to increase footfall in the store.”

Like many other retailers Jordan is confused about the imposition of VAT on mobile phone top-up cards. Adding to his concern is the fact that some phonecards have VAT added to the price and others do not.

However, he is determined to sell the cards because he sees them as a service he can offer customers which can also increase footfall. He does not view them as a profit-earner and draws the line at providing an electronic top-up service.

Jordan believes that offering high levels of service is key to keeping customers happy and he prides himself on the relationships he has built with his customers.

He was born in Trimdon, has lived there all his life and owned his store for 30 years, so he knows 99% of his customers and their families.

Jordan says he has rejected the idea of installing a PayPoint utility terminal because it is not worthwhile.

“I was approached but the returns were not worth it, especially as extra cash has to be handled on the premises,” he says.

One decision that he must not forget to make if he is to keep his wife, Joyce, happy is about a holiday. “I would like one, but there are no plans yet,” he says.