When your store is in a tourist area, summer can be as busy as Christmas, so we’re getting our plans in place now.
Barbecue is an area that a lot of shops miss out on. We don’t have much space to create special displays in our Londis, but we do have space outside that we could use, so we’re considering cooking things like sausages in front of the store. We cooked local sausages as part of our opening event, so it’s something we’ve done before.
At Budgens we are in direct competition with a butcher next door, but if he is selling meat and burgers we can focus on products like cooking sauces and run tasting sessions, using our in-store kitchen to cook some of our products. We could also provide barbecue recipe ideas, such as Coca-Cola chicken.
We are looking into selling hampers too. These could contain standard sauces, condiments, meat, barbecue equipment and drinks. Disposable barbecues are always good sellers too.
Another thing that has worked in the past is offering meal deals, including products such as meat, burgers, buns and ketchup. We can do these at different prices, such as £5 for meat, buns and drinks, or we’ve gone up to £30 if we include wine.
A new opportunity for us this year is the annual Whitstable Oyster Festival. We’ll be one of the sponsors for the first time and will have a stand. We’re hoping to get suppliers to work with us and we can advertise it with leaflets and giveaways. We also hope to sponsor some kid’s parties on the beach.
We have the opportunity to work more closely with local suppliers over the summer. We’ve got a lady who’s interested in selling olives and we’re working with local wine companies too.
I’d like to look at how we can highlight our local products, and one idea I’m considering is advertising them on digital screens around the store.
But you have to be careful with technology and look at the return on investment you get from it; if it increases your sales or makes you look more professional by highlighting your deals, it’s worth it.
It’s tempting to raise our prices at this time of year because the tourists can often afford to pay more, but we have to show local customers that we offer value, and ideas like this are a better way of doing so.
But we have to make sure that we avoid changing the way we work too much because, as the summer rush hits us, our plans and promotions need to be easy to implement and we need to keep staff updated on what we’re doing.