With the UK gearing up for one of the busiest times of the year on the roads, retailers who stay alert can really inject some festive cheer into forecourt sales. Nationwide Autocentres is warning that many motorists are not prepared for the cold winter weather this year as they set off to visit friends or relatives around the country over Christmas.

According to the MOT and car servicing specialist, drivers who neglect to keep their vehicles working properly could end up spending many miserable hours shivering on the hard shoulder after a breakdown. After all, this is one of the most dangerous times of year to be out on the roads – research carried out by the Department for Transport shows there were over 258,000 casualties on UK roads by this time last year, with over 16,000 happening in December alone.

Duncan Wilkes, Nationwide Autocentres CEO, says: “Christmas is a busy time of the year, but it’s also one of the most perilous because of the demands the weather makes on motorists and their cars. Before people set off on long journeys, or even the many short trips it takes to get all the shopping done, it is imperative that their vehicles are roadworthy and fit for the job.”

Nationwide Autocentres has therefore put together a checklist to promote safer motoring this season. And retailers could do well to make sure they don’t sell out of some of the many seasonal essentials drivers will be looking for.

Top tips for retailers include:

* Ensure there is plenty of screenwash, anti-freeze, de-icer, sponges and oil available, and put these in prominent positions in the shop.

* Stock warm socks, blankets and flasks etc — people may impulse buy items like these to keep in their car in case they break down in the cold.

* If items such as torches and car tools are usually tucked away at the back of the shop, move them into a more noticable position.

* Stock first aid kits as well as individual items like plasters and headache tablets etc.

* Drivers may need to recharge their mobile phones on their journeys, or may have forgotten to take their charges with them if visiting relatives. So keep a variety of in-car chargers handy.

* And finally, don’t forget to promote any snacks and food-to-go and hot drinks in store. Being stuck in a traffic jam can really help drivers and passengers work up an appetite!