Summer is still a few months away, but retailers need to think about what they can do to generate footfall and sales right now to capitalise on the season. With restrictions over and people keen to get out and socialise in the sunshine after months of cold weather, there will be plenty of demand. Retailers need to ensure they have got the products and the promotions that will supply that demand and keep customers com­ing back. 

“Adapting is the key word, to create solutions for consumers and find out what they need,” says Atul Sodha, from Londis Peverills in Uxbridge, west London, who is focusing on his innovative and sustainable food-to-go range. “The best way to do this is to know your demographic by talking to your customers regularly and finding out what people are up to. It is likely there will be more barbecues this summer because lockdowns are over, so retailers should look to offer these products. Retailers have to keep thinking outside the box.” 

This will be the first summer since Jey Sivapalan completely refit­ted his 1 Stop – Go Local in Derby, installing a new three-metre chiller and ice cream fridge at the front of the store, offering products that will be in high demand in summer. He is also bringing his Slush Puppie machine out of winter hiberna­tion, with a thought to adding more machines if the demand is there. “Adding the fridge is great for sum­mer as we can sell more multipacks of popular brands such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Monster and mineral waters. Bringing in more multipacks is go­ing to be massive for us as we are in a residential area where people are looking for value for money,” he says.

This will be the first summer since Jey Sivapalan completely refit­ted his 1 Stop – Go Local in Derby, installing a new three-metre chiller and ice cream fridge at the front of the store, offering products that will be in high demand in summer. He is also bringing his Slush Puppie machine out of winter hiberna­tion, with a thought to adding more machines if the demand is there. “Adding the fridge is great for sum­mer as we can sell more multipacks of popular brands such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Monster and mineral waters. Bringing in more multipacks is go­ing to be massive for us as we are in a residential area where people are looking for value for money,” he says. 

Retailers should also consider stocking other summer-specific products in high-footfall areas. Barbecue equipment will be in demand, while equipment for garden and beach sports can make great impulse purchases.

Have stock ready

Have stock ready For Ash Patel, of Montpelier Wines in Hove, East Sussex, summer brings many more customers as people head to the beach. The Brighton Fringe in May and June, and Gay Pride in August, are high points for the store, but the city centre remains incredibly busy throughout the season, with demand for soft drinks, beer and wines particularly high. This means Patel needs to ensure he has the stock to meet these demands, which has been challenging in recent years. 

“The wholesalers are offering the bare minimum, so we have been visiting London to get stock, and we get goods from the Midlands and Scotland,” he says. “We have acquired a van to make sure we can get access to beverages. 

“During the summer months, we do offers on wines and beers. We recently changed tactics to buy more price-marked packs because, although they make a smaller margin, they are attracting more customers.”

Advertise your wares

Jey Sivapalan is hoping the new chiller and ice cream freezer in place at the front of his 1 Stop – Go Local in Derby will attract plenty of passing customers, but he will be doing more to ensure his customers are aware of what he’s offering, such as soft drinks, beer, ice creams and multipacks. Social media will be useful for him to tie promotions and products to the numerous summer sporting occasions. 

Read more: How to keep your shelves stocked: three retailers reveal their tricks of the trade

“There is definitely an opportunity to push drinks promotions during sports events as there is an upsell in these items. It is going to be important to make sure customers are aware of our summer drinks and ice cream options and promotions, so we will advertise them on Facebook and Instagram,” he says. “It is often the case that people come into the shop in the evening after work because they have seen something on Instagram, or on a leaflet that has been dropped off at their home.”

Food-to-go opportunities

Atul Sohda, from Londis Peverills in Uxbridge, west London, is focused on hot food to go. He is looking to make it premium and unique, while offering a good margin. He sold 500 portions of hot food last week, building up loyalty ahead of summer, when he will introduce things such as chicken goujons, meatballs and a vegetarian/vegan option, as well as hot salads, which he is already trialling. This should ensure his offer has a point of difference. 

“We have done this by keeping it fresh and the ideas flowing – this is where the opportunities are if you can find something that people need,” he says. Another priority with his food-to-go offer is to make sure it is as sustainable as possible when it comes to waste. 

“We will be using food that has not gone off yet to cook with, such as using sourdough bread to make croutons for salad. I have already purchased some really cool recyclable packaging with a window on the top that will work really well with it,” he says.

Celebrate your store

Rachael Hockmeyer, from Spar Sleaford in Lincolnshire, will celebrate 50 years at the site this year with lots of store-specific events, including an open day on 30 June where there will be a party with music and food in an area of the store’s yard. The event will be tied into the store’s coffee shop, with special promotions and marketing, all supported by Spar. 

“We are looking into special offers on the day, such as if you buy something, you get a free raffle ticket where everyone wins something,” she says. Hockmeyer will also focus on sporting events and barbecue ranges this summer. “Another thing we will be doing is making sure that our events tie in with the charities we work with. My husband set up a charity, Shock Sleaford, with some friends, and the aim of this charity is to make sure we cover the whole of our postcode with defibrillators.”