Retailers need to start early if they’re to make the most of the festive period, and Christmas confectionery in particular is key, providing significant opportunities to drive footfall and boost sales.

According to Mondelez, seasonal chocolate is the number-one impulse category over the Christmas period, showing just how important it is to get your range right.

In our 2019 Christmas confectionery report, we’ll guide you through the key product launches you need to know about in 2019, take a look at how to develop your range as Christmas gets closer, and give advice on driving customers to your Christmas confectionery.

Planning ahead

Christmas confectionery

Christmas confectionery spend in 2018 was up 4% on the previous year, and there are no signs of it going down anytime soon

“In recent years, seasonal chocolate has enjoyed an upwards trajectory, with both value and volume sales rising,” notes Mars Wrigley UK’s celebrate portfolio director, Emma Thornton. “Christmas, therefore, is an important time of year for chocolate sales.”

According to data from Mondelez, in 2018, Christmas confectionery was worth £937m, and it grew twice as fast as Christmas food and drink at 4%. Over the final four months of Christmas 2018, three key trends stood out. In September, gift blocks grew by 9% compared to the previous year. In October, tubes grew by 6% compared to the previous year, and in November, small selection boxes grew by 140% compared to 2018.

Thornton notes that last year, much of the growth in Christmas confectionery came from newly released premium lines, showing that the trend that has been seen in categories like spirits and chilled foods is also driving growth in Christmas confectionery.

At the same time, although customers are more willing to treat themselves, moderation remains a concern even during the festive period.

“Shoppers increasingly see Christmas as a time to splash out,” Levi Boorer, customer development manager at Ferrero, says. “Customers are buying smaller packs but more regularly.”

Cadbury unveils 2019 Christmas collection

To get the most out of these trends, Thornton suggests using more than one siting for your Christmas confectionery ranges.

“Help shoppers find confectionery whatever their needs by placing confectionery at multiple points around the store – don’t forget to ensure that it’s close to the entrance and near the till,” she explains.

In addition, she highlights the importance of being creative with in-store displays. “Use all the PoS available to create seasonal in-store theatre that makes iconic products only available in the season, like Maltesers Reindeer, unmissable in-store,” she says.

Meanwhile, thinking about what happens after Christmas is another key consideration for retailers.

“When stocking Christmas confectionery, convenience retailers should consider how much seasonal stock they are taking,” says Swizzlers’ sales director, Mark Walker.

“Having a mix of themed and non-themed confectionery will ensure retailers can continue selling any surplus stock once the Christmas period ends.’’

David-Ramsey

David Ramsey

Best-one Byram Park Stores, Knottingley, West Yorkshire

All our Christmas confectionery and seasonal products tend to be on a promotional end. We try to be as festive as we can by putting up tinsel around the store, as well as hanging decorations, which are a real hit with our customers.

We promote Christmas confectionery in many ways, such as signage by the tills. We stock a wide range of products that range from festive treats to gift-boxed chocolates.

What Christmas confectionery to stock this year

From gifts to sharing packs, make sure you stock confectionery for every Christmas occasion

A good Christmas confectionery range begins with considering the different types of purchases shoppers will be making. While some will be looking for gift options for their loved ones, others will want a treat for a festive big night in. Many customers will be looking for products specifically for children, whether it’s an advent calendar or a selection box.

“We know that during the Christmas period consumers are more likely to treat themselves, their friends and their family – whether the treat is shared together or used as a classic stocking filler,” says Mars Wrigley’s Emma Thornton.

Selection boxes are perhaps one of the most obvious Christmas products to stock, a traditional stocking filler that is popular for all ages.

“Much of the success in the selection box category is down to consumers looking for larger boxes to share and buying into the premiumisation trend,” explains Thornton.

It’s important to stock selection boxes for each of these needs. Larger boxes for those looking for something to share on a big night in, as well as a premium option, such as Cadbury’s new-for-2019 Darkmilk Selection Box, for those looking for a more indulgent treat.

Everything you need to know about Ferrero’s 2019 Christmas range

Boxed chocolates are another important category during the Christmas period. Again, Thornton suggests making sure you have a varied range. For example, customers buying for someone they don’t know very well are likely to be looking for a safe gift – a varied box that will have something for everyone. For someone they know well, they might be looking for a more luxurious gift, such as the Maltesers Truffles Ultimate Gift Boxes, which Mars will launch for Christmas 2019.

Of course, Christmas isn’t just about chocolate. Sugar confectionery also does well.

“Christmas is one of the biggest calendar events for sugar confectionery, with parties and get-togethers being key sales drivers over the period,” says Swizzels’ Mark Walker. “It’s important for convenience retailers to maximise the opportunity to entice shoppers and encourage sales by stocking a range of bestselling products from well-known brands.”

The key, then, is to make sure you stock the recognised brands, and avoid using too much shelf space on products that meet the same customer needs. Instead, make sure to stock a variety of both sizes and price ranges.

Carole Birnie

Carole Birnie

Corfe Castle Village Store, Dorset

We don’t do a massive amount of confectionery, generally just what’s on offer, like Quality Street, as well as more premium products like Monty Bojangles truffles. We try to offer something a bit different for our customers. We stock some locally made lines as well, which are popular with our customers as a premium gift. They offer something different in comparison to Roses and Quality Street.

The four phases of Christmas

Developing your Christmas confectionery range

Convenience retailers need to start building their Christmas confectionery range early, and develop it as the big day gets closer

In the months leading up to Christmas, it’s vital that retailers adjust their Christmas confectionery ranges as shoppers’ buying habits change in the run up to the big day.

The first thing to consider is just how early customers will start their Christmas shopping. 

“More than half of consumers start shopping for food and groceries well in advance of Christmas to help spread the cost, with 20% shopping in September or before,” says Mondelez’s trade communications manager, Susan Nash.

“Retailers should build a range for these shoppers from early September to avoid missing out on the first Christmas sales.”

Mars’ Emma Thornton recommends retailers kickstart their Christmas campaign with promotions on boxed chocolates in September. These early promotions will help encourage basket spend among shoppers planning ahead for the Christmas period.

According to Mondelez, it’s worth beginning to stock a variety of cartons, pouches and gift blocks from September onwards. At the same time, with summer coming to a close and the nights drawing in as autumn starts, sharing confectionery will also grow in popularity as customers look to have more big nights in.

Advent calendars are another key category for convenience stores, especially for those in residential areas home to a lot of families. 

According to Mondelez’s data, 85% of advent products are sold in November, so it’s really important retailers have a selection of advent products on prominent display around their stores throughout the month.

Ferrero’s Levi Boorer on maximising your festive confectionary

Kinder Advent Calendar
Kinder has refreshed the look of its 135g advent calendar as it looks to out-perform its 10% growth from 2018. RRP £5.38
Mars Wrigley Confectionery is launching Galaxy Truffles in 206g packs. RRP £4.99
Raffaello
Raffaello will be launching a new 100g round box with a decorative bow to offer shoppers chocolates in a smaller gift format. RRP £4.25
Thorntons Snowy Bear
Thorntons is adding the Snowy Bear (200g) to its range of figures, which is a white chocolate hollow bear. RRP £5.38
Thorntons Continental Limited Edition Continental Winter Markets box
Continental Winter Markets box contains limited-edition flavours for 2019, including Italian Panforte and Dutch Speculoos. RRP £9.68