Raj Krishan Retail controller, Landmark Wholesale
Says: Christmas and the new year can be an extremely profitable period for independents. Whether it is meeting the demands of shoppers on their way to a party by offering chilled wine or beer, or keeping stocked up with snacks to satisfy customers' needs for last-minute entertaining, the period offers many opportunities
There are several top tips for retailers to follow. One is to take advantage of promotional packs and encourage consumers to trade up by stocking premium brands. Also ensure you stock a large range of chilled drinks, including alcohol. A more obvious way to increase revenue is to remind customers that you are selling seasonal items by promoting this in your shop window.
Be prepared - if shoppers see their local store is well-stocked with their favourite products early on they will know they can rely on you in the run-up to Christmas.
Non-food provides an ideal opportunity for retailers to expand product lines so stock up on Christmas cards, decorations, crackers and batteries. Also stock gift bags so customers can turn a box of chocolates or wine into a last-minute gift.
Dee Patel Budgens retailer
Says: Christmas is the biggest trading period of the year for independents so it is crucial they are fully prepared. Retailers attract a lot of new customers searching for last-minute or distress purchases during the period and if you get your offer right, they will keep returning throughout the year.
Availability needs to be running at 100% on core Christmas food lines such as cream, mince pies and confectionery and, in the final week before Christmas, fresh produce ranges need to be fully stocked. Use your sales data from last year to check what products sold well and what didn't, and keep a daily diary so that you are able to make a note of out-of-stock items and use it as a reference for the following year.
Also, increase footfall by making a real effort to tell the local community what your store has to offer during the Christmas period. I have been in contact with the local Lions Club and local schools and have also made contact with a number of local businesses.
I have also distributed our price lists to local businesses so they know what we sell and can order products to give to employees or clients as gifts.
Paul Delves Managing director, Harry Tuffins
Says: Retailers must have the range available, whether it be fresh, ambient or non-food, and must also take some risks with new products each year. Nisa-Today's helped us this year with a range of frozen party foods called Let's Eat In, which is modelled on the Iceland format and has gone down well with our customers.
We can learn a lot from discounters such as Aldi and Lidl, which have upgraded their offers this year. Retailers should try to persuade customers to spend more and not visit rivals' stores. We do this by attaching prizes to spend, for example: spend £95 and get a free turkey.
Price is important. Independents need to be there on price but they will always have to compete with multiples' offers. It is also important to push local values. We sell local products, deal with local suppliers, employ local people and give back to the communities we trade in. Our unique selling point is that we harvest our fresh Christmas trees for all our stores within a 20-mile radius from a local company that manages sustainable woodlands. We also make our own wreaths and holly crosses from local supplies onsite.