The morning trade is crucial to independent stores who can open earlier and beat the competition. Chris Dillon looks at three ways you can boost your breakfast sales.

Hot food to go

As shoppers prepare for a busy day at work, the smell of fresh bakery, coffee and hot bacon rolls could be enough to tempt them into your shop.

If you are new to exploring the opportunity, the best thing to do is to start with a hot drinks machine.

Natalie Lightfoot, owner of Londis Solo Convenience in Baillieston, Glasgow, says: “Start with coffee and work your way up if you are a small shop like me.”

“Now I’m more established and my morning traffic is the busiest part of the day, my next step is to introduce a small pastry selection, straight out of the oven,” she explains.

Customers can be swayed to buy fresh hot food on impulse, but only if the idea is clearly promoted. Anish Parekh of Broadoak Post Office & Londis in Ashton-under-Lyne, Manchester, says: “We keep breakfast on four shelves beneath the counter to encourage impulse purchases.”

Keeping hot food near the counter also allows you to keep an eye on it and make sure freshly-baked products are sold within the allotted time.

Once this range is in place, you should introduce an offer that encourages shoppers to give your range a try.

Meryl Pike Williams of Pike’s Newsagents in Porthmadog, north-west Wales, says: “We have a coffee machine next to the till and offer a hot drink and large sausage roll from the local deli for £2.50.”

Breakfast in the chiller

The chiller presents a massive opportunity for you to drive breakfast sales and offer something unique to your shoppers. Parekh says: “We have granola and yoghurt pots in the fridge, which are positioned next to lunch options, as well as Weetabix drinks.”

Stocking cereals near milk encourages cross-category purchases, which is especially important for busy, on-the-go shoppers. Priya Badhan, category insight manager at Nestlé Cereal Partnerssays: “It is important that on-the-go cereal is merchandised with other on-the-go products, near milk and that retailers have spoons available for the customer.”

The morning is an important sales period for shoppers preparing for the whole day too. Harj Gill, owner of Select & Save – The Windmill, Birmingham says: “We find more people seem to visit in the morning – not just for breakfast items, but lunch too. Even parents come in store on their way to school buying lunch for their children.”

Breakfast is an evolving category and retailers that get it right throughout their store, providing options in the chiller, can grow their sales. Rhian Thomas, IGD shopper insight manager, says: “Our research found that more than half of on-the-go breakfast shoppers used two or more stores to complete their purchase.

“Convenience retailers could think about new or different ranges so on-the-go shoppers can buy breakfast in just one shop.”

Few retailers are getting this area right, so if you can get a great offer in place, it will put you ahead of the competition.

Winning cereals range

Getting the main cereals display right is essential for driving breakfast sales. You should make sure your fixture is easy to shop and communicates good value.

This means that your fixture should flow from popular products such as Golden Nuggets and Frosties through to healthier lines like Quaker Oats and Special K.

Badhan says: “We recommend retailers group all the healthier products together to allow for an easier shop.”

“It is also advisable to stock PMPs since 82% of shoppers specifically look for PMPs when shopping in convenience stores,” she says.

Health is becoming a more important area for shoppers, with cereals repeatedly being slammed in previous years for containing high amounts of sugar. Francesca Davies, group head of category at Weetabix, says: “Seven in 10 consumers are influenced by concerns over health benefits of cereal and 65% are looking to reduce the sugar intake.”

Stocking lines that have traffic light systems allows shoppers to make their choice easily. Gary Lewis, Monster Brands managing director, says: “Sugar Puffs will never go above amber on any of its nutritional information and Good Grain will never go above green.”

But it’s not just the main fixture where retailers can make money from cereals. Creating a breakfast station encourages shoppers to grab everything they need to get them through the morning.

Williams says: “Next to our coffee machine, we have brioche rolls and small one-portion boxes of cereal, which we sell for 40p each.”