Shop Talk: Tracy West

01 December, 2016
Page 40 

I must say that I'm feeling a little bit smug and that's because all of my Christmas shopping is virtually done.

I start early to avoid the crowds and the rush. I don't mind a bit of atmosphere in shops but don't like to see people fighting over the last 'must have' item. In the old days, before shops were open 365 days a year, that meant fighting over the last sprouts on Christmas Eve. Obviously I haven't done my food shopping yet, but it's on my radar as I have already gathered some delicious-looking biscuits. And it would seem that I am not alone as according to research undertaken by him!, 14% of shoppers start their Christmas food and drink shopping before December 1.

However, the same research found that around 20% of shoppers don't start until the week before Christmas, with 8% doing their food and drink shopping on Christmas Day itself. I don't fancy dinner round that latter group's house. The bods at him! say this means these shoppers will be looking for 'last minute deals and solutions' so full availability until the end of trading is key.

Over the years I have spoken to countless convenience retailers about Christmas Day trading and what people come in for. Most are looking for items they've forgotten cranberry sauce or stuffing perhaps. Or batteries for little Harry's new toy.

Some are just using a visit to the local shop as an excuse to get away from the family for a bit.

And some retailers have been met with requests for turkey, which even in these days when convenience stores sell most things, is being a little bit optimistic.

The him! research found that convenience stores capture around 7% of Christmas food spend and 8% of festive drink spend but forecourt c-stores don't do as well.

I think that must depend on the forecourt as some forecourt c-stores are much better than standalone c-stores nowadays.

I think, therefore, if you have a good fresh food offer you really should be shouting about it all year round, but especially at key times like Christmas. It may seem obvious but it really is important to properly communicate exactly when you're open and what you'll have in stock. People will thank you for it when they've run out and then remember that you'll be open. Merry Christmas.

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