chazWelcome to the October Grocery Trader. As the temperature drops, there’s a decided chill out there, and the firm sense that everyone’s keeping their head down between here and Christmas.

These are tough times, then, but that shouldn’t stop us enjoying ourselves. With Halloween and Bonfire Night looming and the party season coming up, we take a look at that major social institution, the ‘Big Night In’, in our feature in this issue.

The pressure is on in the retail sector as it is everywhere else, but thankfully help is at hand for retailers wanting to tighten up their cash management. Profiled in this issue, Tellermate, the South Wales-based loss prevention experts are actively helping retail customers face the intense pressures of the current tough economic climate and minimise loss prevention with its latest generation of cash management systems.

Investment in Tellermate’s solutions is justified by the improvements they give and the time they save counting cash. In addition, the data from the count becomes a deterrent to theft. Despite the advent of contactless payment, the latest statistics show cash isn’t going away: if anything, the amount in circulation has increased. Retailers need efficient ways of counting cash and good audit trails to highlight process variances and exceptions. When store staff know there are stringent processes in place there is less likelihood of shrinkage through miscount or theft.

Mintel reports that the recession has taken its toll on eating out, traditionally a high-growth sector with people going out to cheer themselves up. Per head spending on eating out rose 0.7% in 2009, versus 43% between 1999-2009, further evidence that for millions of Brits, Big Nights In have replaced Big Nights Out, and it’s staying that way.

With Britain either now out of recession or set for double-dip doom and gloom, depending who you listen to, the latest research from British Lifestyles, Mintel’s flagship report, reveals two thirds of consumers are worried about the state of the economy.

Mintel reckons consumers have moved from fearful to doubtful, either way not a strong foundation for spending on enjoyment. How all this will affect Britain’s Big Nights In remains to be seen: the euphoria of the World Cup, and the Barbeque bonanza that came with it is long gone.

As our feature says, traditionally the autumn is a good time for getting together with friends and family to defy the dark weather. But how we do it could all change in our chilly Coalition climate. Have a good month, and keep warm.

Charles Smith, The Grocery Trader

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