Since we last met Denis Jordan in February at his village grocery store in Trimdon, Co Durham, it has been all "work, work, work" just to keep his business afloat, he says.
Respite is at hand as the summer approaches. But like many retailers, finding time for a holiday is tricky for Jordan. "It's not easy to take holidays as finding the time is difficult," says Jordan. One of the reasons is that he gives priority to his five staff for holiday requests. But at the insistence of his wife Joyce, Jordan is likely to take a holiday this year especially as he did not take one last year.
Joyce helps out every morning with making sandwiches to sell in the shop and with putting together customer orders. She also works part-time in the shop.
Jordan admits not a lot has happened in the past three months. But in a village of under 5,000 people, not much does. But the upside is stability, as Jordan says he has the same sales and same customers every week. His prices are also stable as Jordan is not one to offer short-term single item promotions. He believes in giving customers "fair prices across the board" a kind of "village EDLP strategy" that would likely receive approval from Asda boss Tony DeNunzio.
The main development to have impacted on Jordan's business over the past three months has been the 8p duty hike on a pack of cigarettes ­ bad news for Jordan who believes it will result in more cigarettes being sold "around the back door" instead of in his shop.
But despite the hard work and lack of holiday, Jordan has no plans to retire. "I don't want to retire yet. Inside I'm a young fella and I've got a few years left," he says. But at his wife's encouragement he admits he is starting to plan for his retirement.
Meanwhile, time off is productively employed. Jordan plays the cornet in the Trimdon Concert Brass Band along with his two daughters Lynsey (25) and Lisa (19). The bands plays in parks in Sunderland, Gateshead and Darlington on Sunday afternoons during the summer.