What are the most popular products in the run up to Christmas Day?

Sylvia Winters, Creaton Village Stores, Northampton: There’s always a last minute panic on cards and wrapping paper coming up to Christmas. I always find that people buy all the cards they think they need for Christmas but then realise they’ve forgotten someone so they come to us. We always sell all of our stock of gift-wrapping and cards by Christmas Eve so we’re never left with anything.

Suggs and Kash Khera, Simply Fresh Costcutter, Kenilworth, Warwickshire: Our specialist malt whiskiess sold really well last Christmas. Younger people bought them as presents for their parents, and older people just treated themselves. I’m sure they’ll do well again this year too.

Bob Gibson, Premier Stores, Basingstoke, Hants: Last minute treats always go down well so we’ve got some great deals in confectionery such as two large tins of Cadbury’s Roses for £10.

Do you open on Christmas Day?

Sylvia: We don’t open Christmas Day as it’s one of the few days the whole family is together,

Suggs: Christmas Day is the only day we have off to spend with our families, so Christmas Eve is the big day for sales. Having a butcher’s just down the road works out really well for us. On Christmas Eve there are queues out the door, so we make sure that we are open for business then too as people come here to buy the trimmings.

Bob: “We don’t open on Christmas Day as we feel it’s a family day. We always go to Church in the morning and then spend the day together. In fact I think Christmas Day is the only day of the year that we don’t think about work.

How does the store fare over the festive season?

Bob: Last year was the first year that we were a Premier store and we noticed that there was an increase in sales. It worked that we were cheaper than other stores for some spirits and once our customers realised this they came back in their droves. So we’re very hopeful for this festive season,

Suggs: We have a few elderly people who do all their shopping with us, so they’ll do their main Christmas shop here, but the majority of people come in for their specialist goods.

Do you have any in-store entertainment for Christmas?

Bob: We always decorate the store for the customers and organise a carol service for outside the store so we have to supply them with plenty of hot drinks and mince pies.

We also organise collections for the local Hospice and hold draws to win a Christmas hamper. The customers really appreciate this and it creates a nice, welcoming atmosphere in the run-up to Christmas.

Kash: I hired a Santa outfit set up a Santa’s grotto in the store. At Kenilworth Castle they have a carol’s night at the Castle, so this year we’ve got the organisers of that to get involved with our carol service outside our store, and they can promote their own carol evening while they are there.”

Sylvia: On Christmas Eve we’ll have some mulled wine for customers.
Most people have finished work and have done their shopping so they can relax in the shop and enjoy a chat.”