The novelty of it being ‘a new year’ has well and truly worn off. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, Mother’s Day not far behind and Easter clearly visible beyond that.
You’ll already have started planning your promotions for these events – the products, the theatre, the offers, the delivery dates and the quantities.
Events are key ways of gaining extra footfall to your store and creating some excitement among regular customers. Christmas is obviously the traditional biggie, with a rush of gift-buying and food-hoarding pulling people in.
But does January mean that your alcohol sales will drop off immediately? The retailers that we’ve spoken to this week – including Mark Coldbeck, below – have said that alcohol sales have, thus far, remained good. Price-marking is key, he says.
The range being offered to maintain consistent sales is key – a clear mix of price-marking and a strong premium range.
One of the most interesting conversations I’ve had recently though was with Alan McCarten, depot manager at Batleys in Gillingham, Kent. His retail customers, he said, are never going to be able to compete with the offers on spirits ahead of Christmas.
“Tesco is selling Jack Daniels for £15 – and I can’t buy it for that,” he said.
So what does that mean? It sounds similar to the complaints about Easter eggs that have risen over the last few years. Independent and convenience retailers are now being priced out of the market.
So what to do? McCarten’s answer made me think.
“Whereas our time used to be Christmas and sales used to go up, now it’s not,” he said.
“We can’t compete with discounters and supermarket prices. Summer is our time now, that’s when our retailers make their money.”
Taking advantage of every event is crucial. But recognising the potential of new opportunities and grasping them early is equally vital. There are key events just around the corner – but are you in it for the long haul?