There’s no doubt that many consumers are feeling the pinch so Christmas might not quite be the spending orgy it has been in recent years, but it definitely won’t be cancelled. More mums might go to Iceland this year rather than M&S but there will still be a feast come December 25. And shoppers’ reliance on their local store will still be there.
However exactly what should you be stocking? Georgina Wild, marketing manager at research company Him, comments: "Some retailers often just base their orders on the previous year without looking at the economy or the changing tastes of customers. For instance, in recent years premium and higher-priced gifts and confectionery have done well and have often sold out first. Many retailers missed the opportunity to sell more of the better wines and more premium confectionery because they didn’t have the courage to order more.
"This year may be a different story with the credit crunch but I would urge retailers not to over-react and just focus on the cheaper or mainstream lines that become commoditised by the mass of promotions offered on the high street and in the supermarkets."
Wild therefore recommends that retailers look for some points of difference that are harder for the grocery multiples to offer things like hampers of local products, for example.
When it comes to displaying Christmas products, she recommends doing this after November 5 once Halloween and Bonfire Night are out of the way.
"November 6 is early enough for customers to get a good level of awareness of what is available, especially as some of your shoppers will be visiting more than once a week. And don’t panic if products are still left two weeks before Christmas as many people leave the shopping until the last minute."
Wild recommends that forecourt stores have impactful Christmas displays but also use the category displays that customers are visiting for their regular purchases to prompt seasonal sales.
"Promotions are good for forecourt stores but don’t feel that you need to give the products away," she adds.
"Instead exploit the ’goodwill’ effect more by adding premium ranges for the Christmas period.
"My advice is ’be brave when it comes to seasons’, if you are over-cautious and play it safe you will get rewards commensurate to your confidence levels."
When planning your Christmas displays, there’s plenty to choose from.
Last year, in the seasonal cake category, big successes included McVitie’s Irish Cream Bar and McVitie’s Mint Digestive Slices.
This year UBUK has new Penguin Yule Logs, launched as a result of the popularity of the all-year-round Penguin Mini Rolls. The individually-wrapped logs come in packs of six, complete with a Christmas joke. Rrp is £1.
New from McVitie’s for Christmas 2009 is the Disney Cookies & Cream biscuit assortment the first ever Disney biscuit assortment from McVitie’s. The biscuits come in a collector’s edition tin, rrp £5.49.
Following on from the success of the McVitie’s Jaffa Yard, UBUK is introducing the McVitie’s Jaffa Present for Christmas 2009. The 600g pack is said to be more space-efficient for retailers. Rrp is £3.29.
McVitie’s Classic Collection is being relaunched in a new gifting format and re-priced to offer shoppers even better value. The 600g pack will retail at £7.69.
Onto savouries, and KP Nuts is expanding its range of sharing drums with the launch of jumbo peanuts in salt & vinegar and spicy chilli flavours. Rrp is £3.79. Meanwhile the existing KP Nuts sharing drums have a new pack design including a re-sealable drum. Flavours include honey roast, original jumbo salted peanuts and dry roasted peanuts. Rrp is £3.79.
Also available are snack-sharing drums which include Mini Cheddars, Cheeselets, Twiglets, Cheese Footballs and Hula Hoops Stars and Hoops. Rrp is £2.85.
KP Nuts 300g and 500g packs both have 20% extra free. UBUK says these packs are ’must stocks’ for retailers.
Sticking with nuts, have you tried stocking Harry’s Nuts! From Liberation? These are fairtrade nuts from comedian Harry Hill, which would make great stocking fillers for men because of their funny packaging. Hill makes no money from these products the nuts are sold here to support farmers in countries such as Malawi and Mozambique. Bag size is 50g and rrp is 59p.
If you want to offer your food-to-go customers a festive treat how about a turkey & cranberry pasty from Crantock Bakery? Available from November 2, the pasties are made from turkey breast bound with mixed vegetables, sage & onion stuffing, cranberries and cranberry sauce, all in a hand-crimped flaky pastry crust.
The pasties are supplied frozen in cases of 36 units, ready for bake-off on the day of sale.
If you’ve got an off licence, booze will be important for you pre-Christmas.
According to Nielsen data, 2.7 million households purchased Baileys over the Christmas period last year, up 23% on 2007. Diageo is backing the brand to the tune of £5m in the run up to this Christmas. Advertising started last month when last year pre-Christmas it began in November. There are two TV campaigns, one aimed at driving Christmas sales and the other to support the national launch of Baileys ’with a hint of coffee’.
There will also be outdoor and print campaigns as well as sampling activity in London.
Diageo is splashing out a further £2m on support for Smirnoff this Christmas. The brand’s Be There campaign will continue on TV, digital and radio.
In addition, Diageo will continue its heavyweight support for Smirnoff flavours (lime and green apple), which are currently rolling out across the country.
Finally, for customers looking for an original Christmas gift, there’s the new ibrew micro-brewing kit which promises top quality beer for just 50p a pint.
The makers says it’s a million miles from the cloudy, frothing fermenters dads once hoarded in airing cupboards. Instead they describe it as ’slicker, quicker and fool-proof’.
Retailing at £59.99, the ibrew starter kit offers a complete re-usable home brewery including the ingredients to make 40 pints in two batches.
Refills retail at £9.99 for 20 pints.The ibrew pack includes a fermenter, which also doubles as the outer packaging.