This summer is a World Cup year in football which means a once-in-every-four-years opportunity for forecourts to enjoy a sales uplift from customers stocking up on essentials for a night in front of the TV watching the football. While Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all fell short in qualification, it’s once again retailers in England who will feel the biggest benefit, but the stars on show from countries such as Spain, Argentina, Brazil and Germany should bring an increase in ’big night in’ sales opportunities to all corners of the UK.

Product categories such as beer, snacks, confectionery, pizza and barbecue food should all see peaks with the potential for strong sales increasing if England progresses to the later stages of the tournament.

The tournament kicks off on June 14 and runs all the way through until July 15 with 64 matches in all and, with this year’s tournament taking place in Russia, kick-off times are broadly viewer-friendly for a UK audience.

In addition to its existing contract as an official partner of the World Cup, AB-Inbev’s Budweiser lager has also signed up as the lager of the English FA, which comes into effect after the World Cup when the existing contract with Carlsberg runs out.

Several leading FMCG brands are sponsors of either the World Cup or its organising body FIFA, or the English FA and the English team, including Budweiser, Lucozade Sport, Coca-Cola, Walkers and Mars.

Lucy Grogut, Lucozade Sport brand director at Lucozade Ribena Suntory, says: "It’s no secret that large sporting tournaments, such as this year’s FIFA World Cup, translate into increased sales across many categories for retailers. It’s essential to prepare stores now for the busy sporting period, particularly within the categories that benefit the most.

"Soft drinks sales typically rise by over 5% (IRI data) during major sporting events. Within sports drinks specifically this spike is even more pronounced, with sales of Lucozade Sport increasing by an average of 12% during sporting tournaments."

Lucozade Sport is being backed by a £5m spend on new advertising as part of the Made to Move campaign, involving England footballer Harry Kane.

In addition, an on-pack competition will give consumers the chance to win one of over 200,000 prizes. "Lucozade Sport can generate over £1,000 a year per store," adds Grogut. "A good range should, therefore, comprise multiple SKUs from the range, including low-cal variants, to offer consumers plenty of choice."

Mars Wrigley Confectionery will be running a Football Sweepstake promotion throughout the summer, across 11 brands including singles and sharing packs of Mars, M&M’s and Maltesers, with a top prize of £10,000. It is backed by a £1.2m marketing spend including TV ads. Lauren George, brand and trade PR manager at Mars Wrigley Confectionery UK, says: "The big night in presents a great opportunity for retailers to tap into additional sales by providing the right snacking solutions for consumers. The rising popularity of the big night in occasion has resulted in sharing packs playing an increasingly key role in the confectionery market."

She advises retailers to focus on "getting the main confectionery display merchandised well with strong availability of core lines" and says ensuring use of all available pos, such as dumpbins and counter units, will raise awareness and generate impulse sales.

George adds that stores can "hit a first time volley in the top corner" by siting products such as M&M’s and Maltesers alongside savoury snacks and drinks to promote additional basket spend.

Coca-Cola is staging a World Cup trophy tour in the run-up to the tournament. It started in London in January and will visit 91 cities in 51 countries.

Amy Burgess, trade communications manager at Coca-Cola European Partners, says: "Arranging a night in with family and friends to get together and watch televised sporting occasions like the World Cup is becoming increasingly popular, and has created a significant opportunity for retailers to cater for groups socialising at home."

She says soft drinks are playing an increasingly important role in such get-togethers with family and friends to watch matches, with 21% of adults now teetotal according to Office for National Statistics figures.

"Sharing formats are a frontrunner for these occasions," she adds. "With a number of matches taking place mid-week, shoppers may increasingly turn to soft drink choices, and stocking both lower and no-sugar options, as well as different flavour variants, means consumers have a range to choose from."

Burgess adds that for many people, watching sport with family and friends is a direct substitute for going to a pub and this is being reflected in their drinks choices.

"We’ve seen demand for premium products go up as more people choose to socialise at home," she says.

Flagging up the World Cup

Forecourt retailers are looking forward to the prospect of an uplift in sales over the World Cup period, especially on products such as snacks and beer. Tom Dant, managing director of Gill Marsh Forecourts, which operates three stores under the Spar banner in Lincolnshire, says: "We’re seasonal anyway but we do tend to see an uplift in multipacks of beer and crisps and snacks around football.
"We’ll have dumpbins with flags and footballs to create a bit of in-store theatre for it. We get quite a lot of pos from Spar to support that kind of thing as well."
The business will also be highlighting brands that have football promotions as part of its activity.
"We will normally have some sort of bespoke pos from the main brands that are involved which helps us to highlight the event," Tom adds. "This year we’re doing a lot more to promote ourselves on Facebook so we’ll probably heavily plug it on there and encourage everyone to come and get their World Cup essentials from us."
Nick Fraser, retail director at Fraser’s Retail, says the trick is to go early with promotional activity, with the unreliability of prolonged England involvement in the tournament always likely to be an issue.
"Experience has told us that you have to be quite aggressive early on because sales drop off quite significantly when the home nations are no longer involved," he says. "When there’s a game on the sales can be significantly up. It’s in the sharing bags of crisps and the large-pack beers mainly, and, depending on the weather, barbecue products - especially if the big game is at the weekend."

Key fixtures

Thursday, June 14Russia v Saudi Arabia, 4pm (opening game)
Friday, June 15Portugal v Spain, 7pm
Sunday, June 17Brazil v Switzerland, 7pm
Monday, June 18England v Tunisia, 7pm
Sunday, June 24England v Panama, 1pm
Thursday, June 21Argentina v Croatia, 7pm
Thursday, June 28England v Belgium, 7pm
Mon/Tues, July 2/3England second round match, 7pm
Fri/Sat, July 6/7Quarter-finals, 3pm/7pm
Tues/Wed, July 10/11Semi-finals, 7pm
Sunday, July 15Final, 4pm