Preparing for a challenging Christmas: three retailers share their secrets

The betterRetailing team finds out how retailers are preparing for Christmas differently this year

Christmas essentials price comparison 2019

1Catherine Johnson, Premier St Dogmael, Pembrokeshire

“I use a couple of stockists outside our main wholesaler. They have a minimum order, so I try to meet, but not exceed, it. I’ve put Christmas stock out already in anticipation of people budgeting and needing to stagger their purchases. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a drop in demand. I’m certainly anticipating a lower level of card sales. The move towards not sending ‘unnecessary’ materials is definitely happening. If people normally treat themselves to four things, this year they’ll be more inclined to treat themselves to three because of rising costs

“But I do think it’s going to be very similar to the past few Christmases. We’ll keep a range of value and high-end items. In biscuits, for example, I have two packs for £2 and I also have a box of Borders biscuits for sharing or gifting priced at £16. It’s about giving the customer a choice. I’ve kept the choice, but I’ve reduced the volume I’ll be buying.”

2Mukesh Patel, Capel News, Dorking, Surrey

“We’re going to take things day by day this Christmas. The cost-of-living crisis is the main issue we’re facing this year, and we’ve already noticed people cutting down heavily on unnecessary spending in the shop. They’re looking for value for money much more now, and if they don’t have to spend their money on something, then they won’t.

“We’ll be stocking the same products mostly this year compared with previous Christmases, but we’ll be cutting down the amount of stock that we’ll have in store because a lot of people will be cutting down their Christmas purchases this year. If needs be, we’ll go to the cash and carry on a daily basis rather than a weekly basis to keep things topped up or if we run short. We’ll still be stocking premium products, but just on a more limited basis. Most of the retailers in the area are doing the same things as us.”

3Mohammad Shakoor, Weaver Row Newsagents, St Ninians, Stirling

“We’re a traditional CTN business that’s part of the community. We gained customers during the pandemic and we’ve largely retained them. But this year, we’re seeing people watch their spending even more now than they’ve ever done before. People are just after value options at the moment and we stick to what sells.

“Everything keeps going up in price and, for the most part, customers don’t feel they can do much about it. We’re still selling price-marked packs in the store. The chocolate has gone up from £1 to £1.25, but I think it’s better to see that increase coming from the manufacturer rather than from me. There’s always that suspicion otherwise. I think people are happy with the manufacturers plastering price increases via PMPs rather than retailers doing it themselves. We have to concentrate on doing the basics right. It’s going to be very challenging.”

Read more advice for independent convenience retailers


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