As I raised a glass of alcohol-free sparkling Pearl Blanc wine last night I reflected on the year that had just ended and thought about the year ahead.
We’ve had all the celebrity deaths and the election of Donald Trump, but Brexit has been the single biggest event affecting The Alcohol-Free Shop.
We don’t know how things will pan out long term, but in the short-term the Pound has slumped against the Euro – dropping from around 1.40 to under 1.20 (and at some points under 1.10).
Nearly all our drinks come from the EU so it makes a big difference to us. Despite increases in costs to us, we’ve held off raising prices – but rises are inevitable.
Despite this, it’s been a great year for us at The Alcohol-Free Shop. We marked our 10th anniversary in 2016 and saw a very healthy growth in sales and customers as we have every year since we started in 2006.
We’ve also been happy to help those less fortunate by donating zero-alcohol drinks to charities and worthy causes including an event to welcome Syrian refugees in December.
We faced a few problems. All couriers are overstretched at Christmas which means more mistakes and more breakages. There was a shortage of haulage vehicles to transport goods from the continent. A combination of higher-than-expected December sales, and external failures beyond our control (one wagon left Germany with someone else’s pallets…), led to stock shortages in the last few weeks.
On the positive side, we’ve seen many improvements and laid the foundation for new developments in 2017.
We launched a new version of our web site. Our site is now easy to use on mobiles and tablets making ordering more convenient for existing and new customers. We’ll continue making improvements in 2017.
Switching to the new site in December is one of the ‘bravest’ decisions we’ve made. But, apart from the odd teething problem which were quickly fixed, it went smoothly, helped our growth this month and made our customers happier.
The website changes are just the start of a much bigger set of improvements to better serve our customers.
We have some very exciting plans that we’ll share with you as soon as we can.
As always, I’d like to thank every single person who has supported us this year. Every time someone places an order we appreciate the trust you show in us.
The demand for zero-alcohol drinks is growing in the UK and we’re proud of the part we’ve played to help this since 2006.
More people are moving in to the market and the choice of who to buy from is growing. Despite that increased competition, we’ve continued to grow and our regular customers – some from our first week in 2006 – come back to us time and time again.
We know from your feedback that this is because you appreciate that we try to go the extra mile for our customers (see what Christine did on Christmas Eve!)
You also know we genuinely care about the people we supply to and the products we sell. We started The Alcohol-Free Shop for good reasons, and it wasn’t to jump on a bandwagon!
I hope 2016 has been a good year for you and yours, and I wish you all the very best for 2017.
See you in the New Year!