Most retailers would say Boxing Day and New Year’s Day would be their best trading days over the Christmas holiday, but at my Londis store in Headington it was New Year’s Eve.
The nearby Waitrose, Co-op and Iceland all closed early and alcohol sales went ballistic, with people preparing for parties. Beer multipacks in 12s and 24s of all the major brands, spirits and wines were all big sellers. It’s only a shame I didn’t have space to stock more. This year I’ll make sure I have enough back-up stock.
Our second busiest period was Boxing Day, but to my surprise chilled food and fruit and veg outsold alcohol and tobacco. Freshly baked bread was another winner. We were constantly baking off throughout Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day - everything from poppy seed and Parisian loaves to crusty rolls. Ice was also a good seller as local pubs use us to stock up, so I kept plenty out back.
I doubled my milk order for those days, too, which is what I do at my Leamington Spa store as I know that it’s the kind of product people can’t be without. But demand was so high that I still didn’t have enough. I think the main reason is because in Leamington there is competition from seven other independents in the area, whereas in Headington my store is the only one open. I have made a note to ensure that I triple orders for this year and have another chiller on standby for milk.
Just a few days before Christmas, we ran a link deal with the Oxford Mail. We’ve already run a promotion whereby you get a free coffee with the paper. This time, it was a free mince pie. They ran a half-page advert about it in their Thursday issue, and then on Friday someone from the Oxford Mail was in-store to promote it.
I’m now gearing up for Easter with Creme Eggs, MaltEaster Bunnies and Mini Eggs. They’re all selling steadily, especially the Creme Eggs - people love the novelty.
We’re hoping to give our food-to-go sales a boost with a new freestanding unit from Cuisine de France. At the moment our pies are displayed in a counter-top unit, which means customers have to lift off the lid to access the produce. The new unit will be open, so I thought it might use up a lot of energy to operate, but I’ve been told it’s quite efficient. We’ll locate it next to the coffee machine, which should increase sales of both products.