Christmas comes but once a year, so the opportunity to cash in on extra sales in the lead up to Christmas is not to be missed. Whether it’s meeting the demands of shoppers on their way to a party with some chilled wine and beer, or keeping stocked up with snacks to satisfy customers’ needs for last-minute entertaining, opportunities for sales are aplenty in the festive season.

Coca-Cola Enterprises claims that Christmas is one of the most important times of the year for driving sales for independents, and to make the most of the festive season, retailers should identify the biggest opportunities for profit – such as confectionery, soft drinks and alcohol – and stock wisely to make a good Christmas even better.

Norman Brodie, marketing director for CCE, says: “The soft drinks category is one of the most important to get right at Christmas. The key sectors to focus on are colas, adult, mixers and lemonade – sales of these can double at Christmas. Make sure you these lines are prominently displayed and well stocked.”

Key packs over the festive period include two-litre bottles and multipack cans, because, according to data from AC Nielsen, 52% of soft drink sales in the four weeks leading up to Christmas 2003 were fizzy drinks and over 70% of these were in two-litre packs.

Sue Garfitt, Britvic’s director of category planning, says: “The Big Night In is a recognised drink occasion and there is no time of year when it is more prevalent than Christmas. Family get-togethers, parties with friends or enjoying Christmas TV, whatever the reason, retailers must stock up on two-litre bottles and multipacks of soft drinks as they will be in high demand.”

This year Coca-Cola has launched limited edition packs with Christmas graphics, and throughout December the brand will be on TV with the Coca-Cola Caravan ad. Brodie also highlights the importance of big brands at Christmas. “Consumers are more likely to buy well-known brands this time of year than at any other in anticipation of the social occasions ahead,” he says.

“It’s a good idea to stock soft drinks next to alcohol at Christmas to encourage cross-purchase. By positioning Coke with rum, or Schweppes tonic with gin, for example, you are reminding customers that you can meet all their beverage needs.”

Brodie adds that stock management is crucial to reduce lost sales through empty shelves and to run stocks back down for the New Year. “The best way to manage this is to anticipate when sales peaks will happen,” he says. “Demand for soft drinks builds rapidly in the lead up to Christmas, with figures for 2003 showing the week when demand rose sharply was the second week in December and the key week for sales being Christmas week itself.”

According to a Harris International Marketing study in December 2003, 35% of convenience store shoppers say they will buy more soft drinks at Christmas. With that in mind, Brodie says: “Make the most of visits by infrequent customers by giving them the best experience possible – you want them to keep coming back throughout the year.”


Traditional Christmas confectionery sales continue to increase and in 2003 total Christmas sales grew to an overall value of £469.5m. Mike Tipping, head of customer relations at Cadbury Trebor Bassett, says: “We would encourage all retailers to stock up early and develop interesting and exciting displays to maximise incremental sales opportunities during this key time of the year for confectionery.”

The confectionery launches for Christmas 2004 have been coming thick and fast. New for 2004 from CTB is Roses Luxury Collection and Flake Moments, bringing both brands into the premium gift market for the first time. With a price point of £4.99, the collection contains a selection of luxury milk, white and dark chocolates, based on the chocolates available in the traditional Roses carton. Flake Moments is a selection of 22 miniature milk and white chocolate Flake pieces, with a rrp of £3.99.

The entire Cadbury Roses range has undergone a rebranding for Christmas 2004, and Milk Tray is moving from a curved to a square box. In the impulse channel, the 227g Milk Tray box also moves from a double layer to a single layer format for greater standout on-shelf. Meanwhile, Cadbury Heroes is moving to a carton format.

When it comes to selection boxes, the Cadbury Medium Selection Box remains the most successful product on the market and is the top- selling selection pack across all trade channels. For this Christmas the entire selections range has had a packaging makeover, and new for 2004 is the Cadbury Dairy Milk Selection Box (rrp £2.99) containing a 49g bar of each of the single Dairy Milk variants.

Within the tubes sector, CTB is adding a Crunchie tube, which uses the square tube format launched last Christmas, and contains nine treat-size Crunchie bars – rrp £1.29. CTB has also launched a Crunchie Advent calendar, but the CDM Calendar remains the top-selling product in the category with a 22.9% share.

Nestlé Rowntree has got into the festive spirit with the launch of a range of limited editions of its best-selling brands. Aimed at kids and adults alike, Milkybar Snowfall is an impulse bag full of snowball-shaped white chocolate pieces (rrp 35p), and the Smarties White tube comprises white chocolate Smarties at a rrp of 35p. For adults only, KitKat four-finger White (rrp 35p), Rolo Irish Cream (rrp 35p) and Milkybar Mousse, which is a variation of the Milkybar Chunky but with an indulgent chocolate mousse centre (rrp 45p), will also be available in the lead up to Christmas.

Meanwhile, Masterfoods has relaunched its core selection packs and boxes range with new red and green livery, and improved packaging designs to ensure the contents of each pack are more clearly visible to shoppers. Also new for 2004 is a Bitesize Selection Box (rrp £2.99), which includes products such as Maltesers, Revels and Skittles; and in the ever-growing tube category, there will be three additions to the range – Maltesers, White Maltesers and the Galaxy Minstrels Tube (rrp £1.39).

Other highlights from Masterfoods include the return of the White Maltesers Bucket (rrp £3.99) with a new design; and a new Maltesers Advent Calendar (rrp £1.99). And building on the success of the newly launched Maltesers Tree Decorations, comes the Maltesers Mixed Tree Decorations (rrp £2.49).

Within the Bendicks range, Mingles has new festive packaging, new pack sizes – a Seasonal Impulse Pack 260g for £3.49 and a 150g Impulse Pack for £1.99 – plus a £1.5m TV campaign. Bendicks Chocolate Collection will also this year come in a 400g box at a rrp of £9.99 to target the £1.4m large premium gift pack market, and Werther’s Original has launched 250g Gift Churns with a rrp of £3.29.

Kraft Foods has strengthened its Christmas confectionery portfolio by introducing new products and redesigning packaging on best sellers. The launch of Toblerone One by One Varieties will be supported by a £2m TV and sampling campaign in the run up to Christmas. The 200g box includes a mix of twist-wrapped milk chunks, white chocolate chunks, dark chocolate, praline-centred and ‘snowtop’ chunks – classic Toblerone with a white chocolate peak.

Terry’s Chocolate Orange has a new pack design and will be backed by a £2m TV campaign featuring comedian Dawn French; and Terry’s Chocolate Orange Segsations, launched last year, has a new flavour for 2004 – an orange milk chocolate segment speckled with crushed cornflake pieces. Segsations will also be supported by a £2m TV and radio campaign, and Terry’s All Gold has launched a seasonal gift wrap on its milk and dark 220g packs.

Other confectionery launches for Christmas 2004 include Walkers Nonsuch Candy Cube (rrp £1.49), a mix of toffees and éclairs in five different varieties; and Guylian Orange Seashells, which is backed by a £1m advertising campaign from this month, are available in a 50g six-pack of a 190g box. The orange seashells have the traditional Guylian seashell shape but contain a light orange mousse inside. Rrp is £1.05 for the 50g pack and £3.69 for the 190g box. Guylian also has a 500g Christmas box, which this year will be sold with a new Christmas themed outer sleeve that covers a standard 500g gift pack.


A Christmas party wouldn’t be the same without copious amounts of nibbles so crisps and snacks are a key category in the run up to Christmas. Mark Bosomworth, retail and convenience trading director at United Biscuits, says: “At Christmas consumers shop across four or more sectors, so retailers need to stock the right range across all snacks – biscuits, nuts, crisps & snacks and ambient cakes.”

UB has therefore launched a broad seasonal range including three sizes of Crawford’s Rover biscuit selections (from £1.88); McVitie’s Favourites 800g (rrp £6.24); 400g (rrp £4.39); and 800g (£8.98) McVitie’s Victoria selections; and three sizes of McVitie’s biscuits for cheese (from £1.18). Within the sharing snacks sector it has four different flavours of Mini Cheddars in a 250g drum format; five different peanut pots; and three peanut bags. And new for 2004 are the Toffee Roast Nuts & Choc Mix Can and Luxury Fruit, Nut & Choc Can, both with a rrp of £3.59. UB has also launched a Festive Cake Bar Selection Pack including Galaxy, Milky Way and Bounty cake bars.

Walkers Snacks has introduced its biggest Christmas range ever with Turkey & Paxo flavoured crisps, limited edition Sensations Nuts, seasonal Sensations flavours, Doritos Decorations and Doritos Christmas Dip, and sharing big bags of French Fries, Squares and Quavers.

Pringles is supporting the brand’s busiest time of year with the launch of a marketing initiative highlighting Pringles as “the ideal catalyst to bring the party to life”. Part of a £2m brand spend supported by TV advertising from November 15, radio promotions, media and PR, the Pringles Party campaign will see Pringles waving a temporary farewell to its established strapline ‘Once you pop you can’t stop’ and replacing it from October to December with ‘Every party starts with a pop’.

Meanwhile, savoury snacks brand Pork Farms is gearing up for Christmas by adding three new products to its independent and c-store range – a six-pack of Mini Melton pork pies, and a medium and large pork pie, all available from Kerry Foods Direct to Store. From November to December last year, Pork Farm’s pork pie sales grew by 40%, as shoppers buy into large formats and also look for products for buffets.