Christmas can be challenging for retailers to get right, but I am really looking forward to it this year. The main reason is that we have a much bigger store than before, so we have lots more room for creating displays.
At this time of year, though, it’s mainly about price. Shoppers are very shrewd these days and we find that people like to hoard good offers. If you have a good offer on wine, for example, people will often buy a case and put it to one side.
With our larger store we have a lot more space for fresh and chilled products, so this is going to be a key area, and the other is the post office. The biggest challenge is to manage the queues, so at peak times we will have a ‘meet and greet’ person who will move down the line asking each person what they are here for; if it’s just to pick up a form we’ll take them out of the queue and serve them.
Nobody likes queueing, but it is a great opportunity to upsell so we’ll be offering mince pies and the like to sample. Currently, only two out of 10 post office customers buy something else, so there is potential there.
We’ll also extend the opening hours of the post office at key periods, including a week when it’ll be open from 7am to 10pm. The other big change is to store opening hours on Christmas Day itself. We’ve been here for more than 20 years and always opened for a few hours on the 25th, but this year we will open 9am to 6pm.
It’s amazing how much you can sell on Christmas Day; we normally get 50% of an average day’s trade between 10am and 2pm. A friend of ours lives in the flat above the shop and said that last year he lost count of the number of cars that turned up after we’d closed at 2pm, which made us think that there is huge potential for opening later.
So we’ll advertise the fact we’re open all day in the local paper, do a leaflet drop in the village, and get the message out via social media. Hopefully, we can get the local radio station interested as well – after all, it’s always a great day to open as there is such a fantastic atmosphere in the shop. The staff dress up in Santa outfits, and we’ll have sausage rolls and wine to try. So we’re hoping for a good day, and we’ll still have time to get home and have a good Christmas dinner. It’ll just be a little later than usual!