OPINION: Are you ready for Christmas? – Jeet Bansi, Meon Vale Londis, Stratford-upon-Avon

'We merchandise our giftwrap, which doesn’t get a great margin, with gift tags and Sellotape, which does'

Christmas essentials price comparison 2019

This is the time of year when people have had their summer holidays and the weather is starting to draw in, although we’ve enjoyed an unexpected late splurge of hot weather recently.

The sunny spell has seen us bask a little longer in the high-margin footfall drivers of food and drink that go with summer.

It’s important not to forget that after this good weather, minds will turn to Halloween and Christmas, and you need to be thinking about how you’re going to prime customers for the festive season and let them know what you’ve got.

We took advantage of the Londis presell for Christmas. We make sure to get the stock for any seasonal events at the first available opportunity because it gives us the chance to make customers aware in advance. We don’t keep it in the storeroom, it goes straight onto the shelves because that’s where it sells and makes money.

Take sharing tubs of chocolate, for example. Customers will buy them in advance, stocking up for Christmas, but the majority will consume those before Christmas anyway and come back for more. And we mustn’t forget that Christmas isn’t the only gifting opportunity in the year. There are still birthdays and family visits that require gifts, which means these are good items to have in your store year-round.

With chocolate, we focus on advent calendars and gifting, making sure customers know what we’ve got. We’ve got Christmas cards and tissue wrapping paper out as well. It means customers know we’ve got them and will remember where they saw them. If you’re in a hurry, you’ll get what you can from where you know you can get it.

None of this is in a prominent position in the store yet; they’re all merchandised within their categories – Christmas cards in our greetings cards section and tubs of Christmas chocolate in with the rest of the confectionery. But we’ve made space for our next big sell at the end of September.

That is when the weather is really starting to draw in. Cross-merchandising is useful then. We merchandise our giftwrap, which doesn’t get a great margin, with gift tags and Sellotape, which does. That makes us a one-stop shop.

My advice to retailers is: take advantage of the presells and get in as early as possible with them.

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