Having previously explored what retailers can do to cater for older customers and young adult customers, the betterRetailing team now turns its attention to children and what retailers can do to create an offer that is appealing to them. 

By attracting children into your store, you are not just generating income from their pocket money. There is also the opportunity to use ‘pester power’ and create more sales from accompanying parents and grandparents as well. “We have a children’s area towards the front of the store and opposite the other confectionery,” says Val Archer, from Biddulph Convenience Store (Premier) in Stoke-on-Trent. 

“Colourful stuff is key. We put children’s magazines and sweets together and it works well. The kids see the mags and pester power gets to work, particularly with grandparents. Near the store we have a lot of grandparents doing childcare and they’re far more susceptible to pester power.”

“When parents are there, they tend to buy more,” echoes Colin Manning, from Cantillon Group in Cork. “Parents have no problem buying a magazine for a child. You need to stock them leading up to the tills.”

When it comes to children, there are two principal concerns for retailers – value for the younger ones and trendiness for the older ones. “It’s all about being the trendy shop,” says Reuben Singh Mander, from The Three Singhs in Selby, North Yorkshire. 

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“You’ve got to be the shopkeeper that’s up to date. What kids want can change within an hour, but if you can master it, then it’s an easy source of revenue.” Singh Mander cites global confectionery as something currently trending – whether it’s from the USA, China or Japan. “Parfetts managed to secure us a nice amount of Wotsits Giants Prawn Cocktail crisps and the kids bought loads of them. We also do lots of internet sourcing on websites such as American Fizz,” he says.

Get a slushie machine

Val Archer, from Biddulph Convenience Store (Premier) in Stoke-on-Trent, has a dedicated children’s area filled with magazines and sweets, but it is the slushie machine she lists as the first thing retailers should get to bring in sales from children. 

“They’re great because the profit is enormous,” she says. “You definitely need a slushie machine, it’s very big in our store. But they do take a bit of a looking after.” As well as slushies, Archer recommends Haribo and lots of less-expensive items that allow children to buy lots of little things. 

“Haribo is the big winner. You put Haribo out there and you sell more. Small Cadbury options such as Freddo are still popular. What you want is a range of small bags priced around 10p to 20p. Kids will come in with their pound and they want to buy lots of little things. They want to feel like their money is going further,” she adds.

Cheap and cheerful

Many of the areas in Colin Manning’s Cantillon Group store in Cork are very child orientated because they have a lot of schoolchildren coming into the store on a regular basis. That means they are full of eye-catching, cheap and cheerful products, with a focus on confectionery. 

“We do Kinder Surprise, Barbie sweets and Peppa Pig sweets,” he says. “When they walk in the shop, they’re hitting the kids’ eyes immediately. We run five simple offers – things like potato chips for £1 and then grading up – all with 50% margins. They are eye-catching, quick and easy, and don’t interfere with our deli services.” 

He puts his children’s products all over his shop so whatever parents are shopping for, their children will be able to see something they want, too. “We sell the kids’ magazines in the same place as adults’ magazines because kids will lead the parents,” he adds.

Value is key

At his Tenby Stores & Post Office in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, Vince Malone observes his younger shoppers are far more priceaware than older shoppers. “They’ll stand there with their money in their hand and work out what they can get for it, whereas 50% of people paying with card probably don’t know how much they’ve spent.” 

To this end, Malone says it’s important to have clearly priced products with round RRPs. “The child with an allowance knows exactly what they’ve spent and what they’ve got for it – they want to stretch £1 as far as possible and work out how to get the best return on investment,” he says. 

He has also found a point of difference with a self-service Slush Puppie machine, which his store is the only one in town to offer, and attracts interest because younger shoppers like filling up their drinks themselves.

Keep up with TikTok

As well as value options, Reuben Singh Mander has found that children coming into his store, The Three Singhs in Selby, North Yorkshire, are looking for products trending on social media, such as Takis crisps. 

“We’re happy with that because it’s more cash in the till and more profit at the end of the day,” he says. “With Takis, we’re making anything from 35-40% margin compared to Walkers, which is 20-25%. “From 13 years old, they are after whatever is going around on TikTok. 

That’s the thing we have to make sure we’re stocking and are the first to have it in our area. If we’re the only store stocking it, then we can charge more. 

“Some things we find on TikTok ourselves, some things we find by looking at other stores and sometimes it’s kids coming in and asking for it. We also look for suppliers who’ll tell us about up-andcoming products in order to keep ahead of the trends.” 

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