Freezing temperatures have turned up the heat on hot beverages sales for c-stores, and manufacturers are working hard to keep up that success

For many Britons the idea of being snow-bound and unable to get to work would only be complete if the house contained a good supply of tea and coffee.

In Britain we drink more tea than water in fact 33% of everything we drink is tea which equates to an incredible 1,400 cups per second, according to TNS. 

This passion for tea and hot drinks in general is showing no signs of cooling. In the convenience channel the hot beverage category is now worth almost £200m and in the past year it has shown impressive growth of 4.6%, according to IRI data (year to October 9, 2010).

The cold snaps at the start and the end of 2010 helped to boost the category’s fortunes further, particularly through the convenience sector.

Dee Dee Hildreth, the local marketing co-ordinator for Budgens Stoneleigh Broadway, Surrey, explains how the store was in a good position to take advantage of the chilly weather in 2010.

“Because of the cold weather our sales went through the roof at the end of November last year. It was extremely busy,” she says. “There are many elderly shoppers around here who don’t want to get in their cars in bad weather to drive out to the bigger supermarkets. We were really lucky and we didn’t miss any deliveries.”

And with shoppers making sure they stocked up on winter warmers as well as store cupboard essentials, sales of hot beverages fared well, as Dee Dee confirms.

“Hot drinks came into their own earlier than usual due to the plummeting temperatures, and by December we had already seen a 20% increase on the previous year,” she says.

top tips 

On average hot beverage shoppers have more items in their baskets ( 5.1 compared with an average 2.7), according to research consultants HIM. 

With this in mind, experts advise retailers to think about what else these shoppers may want to buy, such as milk, sugar or newspapers, and plan the layout of their store accordingly. 

For this reason Partners for Growth, an industry initiative from Unilever, advises retailers to site fast-selling hot beverages such as tea in a high visibility area. 

“It seems obvious, but if your customers can’t find the tea they won’t buy any, so make sure your fixture is in a prominent position next to associated products such as sugar and biscuits,” says a Partners for Growth spokesman. 

It also suggests dividing the fixture into product groups to keep things neat and tidy, with four areas for tea, for example, normal, fruit & herbal, green and speciality. 

“Focus primarily on normal tea, which represents 81% of sales, then look at the three sub-categories where space is available,” recommends the spokesman. “When it comes to tea, shoppers are very brand loyal so give the most space to top-selling brands.”

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