The grim weather is having an impact on key categories as we feared, but thankfully none of our regulars have been affected by flooding. Unless the sun comes out soon, we’ll have to renegotiate our soft drink overriders.

The smoking ban doesn’t appear to have affected our tobacco department sales but there has been a dramatic increase in sales of leading stop smoking brands like Nicorette. Our tobacco sales performance still goes up and down like a yo-yo, which has more to do with the availability of smuggled and counterfeit cigarettes and tobacco in the vicinity, still a major concern to most wholesalers in the country as well. Last month’s HMRC seizure of over 12m fake cigarettes reminds us that the problem is still very much with us. It will be interesting to see how well Imperial Tobacco’s new Player’s Gold Leaf hand rolling tobacco and Gallaher’s Benson Hedges Black fare in this climate.

It is little more than a year since Quinn’s fruit alcohol drinks went national. We thought this mature approach to alcoholic RTDs might succeed in the longer term but Diageo is clearly only interested in instant winners and if an pound;8m investment can’t deliver that within a year, then it’s best to walk away. Surely it has not forgotten that it took Bailey’s Irish Cream several years before it became an overnight success.

When is a perry not a perry? Lambrini’s marketing people believe it’s OK to encourage its target audience of 18-24 year old women who believe its fizzy perry cider is a wine, by redesigning its packaging to enhance this perception. Good honest marketing?

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