Georgina Wild of HIM offers some hints on squeezing out more sales in the run up to Christmas

There are some simple ways to increase customers' basket spend in the weeks leading up to the big day.

First, ensure availability of your core range such as milk and bread at key times of the day. Don't forget that 40% of c-store shoppers are there to top-up. These are the items that customers will need urgently and will run out of over the busy festive period.

Stock speciality Christmas products such as mince pies, puddings, confectionery and chilled wine for those last-minute purchases. And don't forget gifting accessories such as cards, tags and bags which can turn purchases into gifts.

Only 5% of c-store shoppers think c-stores do events well. Exciting and interesting displays create theatre around certain categories, which will help to drive impulse. Perhaps create some buzz with a prize draw or raffle for a local charity (most shoppers think stores should be involved with local charities and community). Could you arrange for Santa to visit the store?

Think about sampling of mince pies and non-alcoholic mulled wine, which can be then purchased on promotion.

Don't forget to inform your customers via leaflets posted to the surrounding catchment to remind them of all the products and services that you offer such as cash back or pay by card (45% of shoppers say they would shop more at their local store if they could pay by card). Do your customers know that you accept card payments? Also tell them about the lottery, cold beers and wines, bottles of spirits, Christmas specials, and opening times.

The leaflet does not need to be about price promotions. Some 34% of shoppers say they buy items seen on a store's leaflet.

Loyalty cards can also be effective in the run up to Christmas as not only will this encourage customers to visit more frequently, but will also provide you with their contact details which can later be used for marketing purposes.

But perhaps the quickest and easiest way to increase sales is to make sure staff are up selling at the till. Currently, only 2% of shoppers said they were informed of a promotion, and only 1% were asked if they wanted to play the lottery a huge missed opportunity.

More insight from HIM research & consulting