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Retailers looking for a good start to 2018 will be hoping confectionery sales will be boosted by the big events that define spring. Toby Hill speaks to six store owners for their advice
Christmas has barely been tided away and retailers are already having to prepare for the next string of seasonal events. Spring hops relentlessly from Valentine’s Day to Mother’s Day to Easter, with confectionery at the heart of all three.
The branding and decoration around each event is entirely distinct, however, so while some unsold stock can be transferred seamlessly from one to the next, in-store theatre demands at least some specifically Valentine’s or Mother’s Day-branded chocolate that, if it isn’t sold by the event it is tied to, is unlikely to shift before its shelf life expires.
As this implies, this is a period of challenging decisions around stocking and ranging. Here, we ask retail experts what they do to minimise waste and maximise profits through the busy and varied spring period.
Christmas to Valentine's Day
Kay Patel, Best-one Wanstead, London
We have the mantra “exit the season with no residual stock,” and use promotional mechanisms and displays to offload as much as possible. Clearly, though, we’ll never get rid of everything. Some products will remain in-date for six months after Christmas and still sell at full price, such as big tubs of chocolate, so that isn’t a problem. With other lines that aren’t branded specifically for Christmas, such as Matchmakers, big bars of Galaxy or boxes of Maltesers, you can do promotions again during Valentine’s, giving them another chance to sell.
Secret to our success: Try using big jars of selection brands, like Quality Street, to bulk out a hamper for other seasonal events, such as Valentine’s or Mother’s Day.
Chris Herring, Londis Shiphay, Post Office, Torquay
We have one metre-long card stand filled with cards sourced from a wholesaler called BGC at the centre of our Valentine’s Display. We’ll then surround it with flowers and chocolates and soft toys and other gifts. Londis will have chocolates on promotion so we’ll push them, using the PoS they provide. All the chocolate boxes we stock sell well – Black Magic, Dairy Milk, Roses and so on – and there’s usually at least one of them on offer, which we’ll highlight using promotional material supplied by Londis.
Secret to our success: Try putting a box of something small on the counter, Love Hearts, for example. Add a small promotion – like three rolls for a pound– and they fly out.
Valentine's to Mother's Day
Julian Hull, Nisa Local, Southminster
We use the same promotional bay for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, and just transform it from one event to the other, using PoS and promotional material from Nisa. A lot of the gifts and flowers can be doubled up for both, especially the chocolate: Cadbury Dairy Milk, Terry’s Gold and Guylian, all work just as well for Mother’s Day as Valentine’s Day.
Secret to our success: Centre the Mother’s Day display around a few personalised products that say ‘Mum’ on them, then bulk it out with leftover stock from Valentine’s.
Anish Parekh, Londis Broadoak & Post Office, Ashton-Under-Lyme
With calendar events such as Mother’s Day it’s important not just to put a few products on promotion, but to show customers you know what’s important to them, by coupling PoS and decoration with items that will appeal to them in that period. For Mother’s Day, for example, I’ll make sure we have a range of products of various qualities at different price points: a Dairy Milk box, a Thorntons box, a large box of Lindor. That way we can appeal to as many different demographics as possible.
Secret to our success: Put up PoS and posters a couple of weeks in advance of the event to remind your customers it’s coming up and they need to prepare for it.
Mother's Day to Easter
Sanmugalingam Pirapakran, S&M Supermarket, London
I’ll always bring in special chocolate and confectionery items for Mother’s Day, including some big boxes. I’ll try and get them to sell, using reductions if necessary. Some of this stock can be transferred to Easter, but you also need a lot of Easter-specific gifts, so it’s limited. If I have leftover chocolate I can’t shift I will donate it to a community event, which helps foster a sense of community.
Secret to our success: Pairing chocolate on promotions with other products such as wine can help drive sales and create a sense of occasion in the store.
Julie Atkinson, Hollins Green Community Shop, Warrington
We work hard to create theatre in the store for Easter as people appreciate it, especially children. We animate the shelves with flowers, branches, and there are bunnies everywhere; we’ll scatter eggs around the store, hanging them from branches and burying them in the flowers; we’ll do cakes and hot cross buns. We try not to over-order on Easter-specific stock though – we’d rather run out a little early than have too much.
Secret to our success: We get the bulk from our main wholesaler but can always top-up from a local cash and carry if particular lines go better than we expect. So we use both a national and a local supplier to get the stock balance right.
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