Eating al fresco is all the rage. The barbecue category is worth £19.3m in the UK, growing 4% year on year. Sonya Hook finds out how you can get sales sizzling.

Retailer views
  • “We have a local butcher in-store and his kebabs on skewers are popular for barbecues – we squeeze marinades into the meat cabinet to encourage more sales, but space is tight. “We also use a chrome stand near the front of the store to sell charcoal, lighters, marinades and other barbecue essentials. When the sun shines beer sales go through the roof.” Nick Davey, Knight’s Budgens, Hassocks, Sussex.
  • “We create a barbecue fixture at the front of the store near our ice cream and soft drinks displays. We would definitely consider doing cross promotions between them.” Amarjit Kaur, Princess Store, Cannock, Staffordshire.
  • “In my parade of shops there’s a butchers and bakers that feed into my store. I’m already preparing the fresh meats to get the best cuts and the different flavours for barbecue season – some summers I can’t cope with the demand.” Appian Sharma, Sunrise Supermarket (Costcutter), Eltham.
  • “In the summer we have a barbecue section in store with instant barbecues and charcoal close to our chilled meat area.” Jasmer Sidhu, S.S. Sidhu, Wolverhampton.

What to stock

The barbecue provides retailers with a fantastic opportunity to sell a raft of summer products, and with the possibility of the sun making an appearance it’s crucial that retailers are prepared.

Meat, bread, salad and sauces are sales winners at this time of year, as are ready-to-use barbecues, charcoal and other cooking accessories and implements.

With sunshine and outdoor snacking, comes the opportunity to sell more ice cream, so retailers should make sure they have plenty of options available at all times.

cornetto miniCornetto is launching a range of hand held and mini ice cream formats to help convenience stores tap into the growth of snacking and sharing. Bags of Cornetto Bites contain 12 bite-size Cornettos, RRP £3.50, while Cornetto Taco, RRP £1.50, launched exclusively into the impulse channel in March.

“The launch of Cornetto Bites and Cornetto Taco offers consumers smaller ice cream treats to drive the association of snacking within the ice cream category,” says Sarah Atkins, brand manager for Cornetto at Unilever.

A barbecue offering isn’t complete without beverages, and Adrian Troy, AG Barr’s head of marketing, stresses that demand for soft drinks rises significantly in the summer. “Thirst-quenching favourites are an absolute must at a barbecue, presenting an opportunity for shopkeepers to create theatre around the fixture,” he adds.

warburtonsAnother way to be prepared is by stocking ‘thaw & serve’ bakery items, such as buns, baps and rolls.

“These are great for a sudden increase in customers, as they are supplied frozen and can be stored in the freezer,” explains Rachel Shoosmith, marketing manager at Lantmännen Unibake.

A good range is essential in bakery, agrees Warburtons’ brand director Megan Harrison.

As well as rolls, retailers should think about stocking sandwich thins, wraps and pittas for those looking for greater variety and lighter food options.

Other consumer trends, such as the increase in gourmet burgers, are also moving into the barbecue market. “We predict gourmet hot dogs and burgers, will be the next big trend for summer,” says Shoosmith.

How to make the most of barbecues

barbecueThe main thing is to be prepared for the sunshine at any time. But retailers should also explore cross-category merchandising by stocking items such as mustard, mayonnaise and ketchup next to barbecue fixtures or meat chillers.

Dorothy Smith, brand manager at Baxters Food Group, says dual-siting can really benefit sales. “Consumers only purchase, on average, one bottle of barbecue sauce twice a year,” she says. “However, this frequency can be increased with the right messages, on-shelf positioning, pricing and promotional offers.”

Snacks are an ideal accompaniment to barbecue food. With nearly one in three sharing bags sold bought in impulse, they should be sited alongside barbecue products or displays.

Adrian Troy at AG Barr reminds retailers to think about soft drinks, as “it is one of the most profitable categories in your store.” He says: “Ensure your soft drinks fixture is highly visible, well presented and located in a high-footfall area between the door and till to make the most of the barbecue occasion.”

Emma Hunt, marketing manager at Vimto Soft Drinks, also notes that consumers shopping for barbecue items may be looking for larger sharing formats and recommends retailers offer 2l bottles and multipacks.

“Vimto and Levi Roots are good choices for occasions like family barbecues because the large packs offer something different served on their own or as fruity mixers,” she adds.

bbqFinally, retailers may also want to think about items such as single-use barbecues and instant lighting charcoal. “Barbecuing tends to be an impulse activity so it is important to ensure barbecues and charcoal are easily located,” says Caroline Morris, head of sales at Bar-Be-Quick.

She notes that stocking these items in specific aisles, such as fresh meat or alcohol, is also effective. The company has recently expanded its range, with products such as a portable picnic barbecue.

Learn how to grow your alcohol sales this summer here.