What do we do on the longest day of the year in 30-degree heat? It's obvious - we work out the hours we want to trade at Christmas.
It's difficult to sit around cogitating and thinking forward to jingle bells, mince pies and hopefully ringing tills but it has to be done now, especially so at John Lewis, where the involvement of employees in decisions make the process less straightforward.
The process in my branch began as far back as January, with a reflection on the relative successes and failures of Christmas last year. This was a full consultation across the shop potentially involving up to 800 partners.
All of this contributed to input at divisional level and agreement by elected representatives to our core hours for this year. More recently, a steering group of management and non-management partners here in Nottingham has worked on more local arrangements and to form a proposal that I can take forward to the wider branch. The non-management element of this group constitutes the majority, so I viewed the outcome with interest.
It's testimony to our form of industrial democracy that the conclusion of the group is to trade longer hours than last year. The work/life balance has been sensibly maintained, but still allows us to increase our commercial opportunities at the end of the year.
Is this lengthy process all worth it? Well, I'll have a group of partners much more supportive of the hours we trade and will take much greater ownership of our relative successes and failures because they've been part of that process. At a time crucial to most retailers' fortunes, that is worth a great deal to me.
It's just dawned on me why time seems to be passing so quickly - and it's not just middle age. It's because we're always looking to the future. But then the exciting bit is what has not yet happened. That's the fun of retailing.
Roll on The Snowman and Slade. When it's all finished, we'll start all over again.
10 WOMEN TO WATCH
Beverley Aspinall, managing director, Fortnum & Mason
Joanna Binder, merchandise director, Burberry
Dido Harding, international commercial director, Tesco
Octavia Morley, commercial director, Woolworths
Anne Pitcher, buying and marketing director, Selfridges
Penny Teale, director, general merchandise, Sainsbury's
Laura Wade-Gery, director of e-commerce, Tesco
Andrea Warden, chief executive officer, Heal's
Alannah Weston, creative director, Selfridges
Yasmin Yusuf, chief executive officer, East
Source: Moira Benigson
WOMEN IN RETAIL: THE TOP 10 POWER LIST
1 Rose Marie Bravo, chief executive, Burberry
2 Kate Swann, chief executive, WHSmith
3 Kate Bostock, head of womenswear, Marks & Spencer
4 Jane Shepherdson, brand director, Topshop
5 Sara Weller, managing director, Argos
6 Angela Spindler, trading and marketing director, Asda
7 Rose Foster, chief executive, Monsoon
8 Gwyn Burr, customer director, Sainsbury's
9 Marie Melnyk, commercial and trading director, Morrisons
10 Belinda Earl, chief executive, Jaeger
Source: Moira Benigson.