Some retailers are already making money from festive products and there’s potential for all stores to pull in cracking Christmas sales 

With the busiest and most profitable time of the year approaching, there are lots of choices for retailers to make as a plethora of festive NPD is being brought to market and brands aim to be part of our Christmas celebrations.

Merys Griffith, store manager at Spar Benllech in Anglesey, says: “We look forward to Christmas from a business point of view because we get an increase in sales of about £100 a week. Chocolate and cakes do well, and mince pies, too. Beers and wines are also in demand, as is pop for mixers.”

And it seems that the Christmas preparations are becoming ever more important. “They say Christmas comes earlier every year – and judging by consumer behaviour that’s definitely the case,” says Spar UK brand director Susan Darbyshire. “That means retailers should start planning for Christmas with a visible festive confectionery range as soon as possible – ideally by the end of October.”

Simon Lee, store manager at Co-op Welcome, Marchwood in Southampton, has been planning his Christmas stock since March and put the first of his Christmas range out on shelves last month.

“It really is surprising how much we have been selling since September. We have a lot of luxury biscuit and chocolate tins, tubes of sweets, boxes of Quality Street, Roses, Heroes and Celebrations, even advent calendars, and all of these are selling already.

“When it comes to chocolates, people will buy them well in advance, from September, with the idea that they will get prepared for Christmas, but they often end up opening and eating them before December and come back to buy more. They essentially buy the products twice because we have them in early.”

Not surprisingly, confectionery will be on plenty of shoppers’ Christmas lists. It became the number two fastest-growing category last Christmas (Nielsen Homescan, Value % change four weeks vs YA to week ending 26 December 2015), and the last four weeks of the Christmas season account for 50% of confectionery sales, according to Mars.

In 2015, boxed chocolate sales accounted for 74% of total Christmas chocolate confectionery sales, with the Celebrations tub remaining the number one brand in this category, worth £41.7m (Nielsen, Total Coverage, Total Chocolate MAT week ending 26 December 2015).

Bep Dhaliwal, trade communications manager for Mars Chocolate UK, says chocolate is “intrinsic” to Christmas because it is at the heart of many rituals and traditions. “As such, it is a highly exciting time for consumers, who look forward to opening their advent calendars, decorating the tree, and having a night in with family and friends at this festive time,” she says.

On advent calendars, Simon says: “People start buying these from very early on, but 90% of sales will come in the couple of days before December. We always make sure to have extra stock for those who come in a good five or six days into December.”

Steve Manning, manager of Londis on Rochford Corner in Eastwood, Essex, also started selling Christmas items in September. He points out that as his is more of a top-up shop, the big lines for him at this time are tins of chocolate, beer and spirits. “Tubs of Celebrations, Roses, Quality Street and Heroes are stacked up in-store already. They’re priced at £6 and they normally sell out every year, though the margins are rubbish – only 4-5% – and people are getting less chocolate now than they used to.”

Simon points out that many bargain-hunters will start shopping early as they know some items are on special offer earlier in the year. What’s more, many of the festive formats are a much better value than standard packs, he believes.

“A tube of smarties is £1. It’s well worth buying one of those rather than a packet for 70p, when you get two-and-a-half times more in a tube. So those aren’t just for Christmas – people buy those for immediate consumption.”

Vip Measuria, who owns two One Stop stores in Derbyshire, agrees that chocolate is a hot product at this time of year.

“We’ve had some good Christmases recently. Our sales were up 11.7% two weeks before Christmas at our Prior Way store. One Stop Draycott changed over from a Family Shopper in February, so we’ve not experienced a Christmas there under the new fascia yet, but last year we did really well on boxed chocolates in Prior Way,” he says.

“People start shopping for Christmas goods quite early on. Just after Halloween last year we had a Christmas teaser deal – a big box of chocolates at a low price. Then we ran another boxed chocolate promotion from the end of November until the beginning of January. It was an unbelievable deal – three boxes for £5 – and they did amazingly well. Having a good offer really drove Christmas sales because it was cheaper than anywhere else.”

Tony Holmes, sales director for retail at Bestway Wholesale, adds: “Christmas is a key time for independents, especially within confectionery. Over the past few years, convenience shoppers have moved away from the larger multiple stores, preferring little, local and often. While it’s probably true that they will revert back for a big shop at the multiples in the run-up to Christmas, there is still plenty of opportunities for independents in sharing, gifting and confectionery novelties.”

Bestway has produced a special eight-page Christmas confectionery brochure. The Christmas Crackers promotion offers retailers deals across a comprehensive range of sharing, gifting and impulse confectionery lines.

All change

As well as bringing in a multitude of new festive lines into store, there is also a lot of re-organisation needed moving closer to the big day.

Steve points out that one simple change he makes is bringing Christmas cards from the back to the front of the store.

Paul Clarke, sales and marketing director for UK batteries and hardware division, Spectrum Brands, believes retailers need to ensure Christmas lines are given good visibility. “With many shoppers now heading online for their Christmas shopping, the need for retailers to provide a compelling in-store proposition is even greater. Indeed, for convenience stores the opportunity to provide those must-have essentials right up to the last minute is significant. Longer and later opening hours, especially with Christmas falling on a weekend this year, will be key to securing those final sales.”

Go full power at Christmas

More than a third of the total annual battery volume is bought during the four-month period between October to January, according to Worldpanel data.

Tim Clark, sales manager for Panasonic Energy UK and Ireland, says retailers should be making the most of the opportunity.

“Batteries is a high-margin and highly-profitable category for grocery retailers, but there is room for further growth,” he says. “Making the most of the category by getting the ranging right, bringing in effective in-store promotional material, and utilising space to maximum effect will pay dividends.

“Because it is such a highly impulsive category, there are opportunities to make more of it, not only by the introduction of secondary siting around the store, but by making sure the main fixture is in a highly-visible area. The space occupied by tobacco gantries – now dark because of restrictions on tobacco advertising – presents the perfect opportunity to power up battery sales. It’s crucial that retailers get their seasonal range right. If they don’t, they miss out on the sales surge as people start preparing for Christmas gadgets.”

The total battery market has grown in volume by 6% and is stable in value at £256m (Kantar Worldpanel).”

Bep Dhaliwal at Mars Chocolate UK advises putting confectionery best-sellers at eye level, where shopper attention is naturally focused, and siting Christmas items together, making it easier for shoppers to buy.

The level of preparation required can seem a formidable task, though. Bestway’s Holmes advocates introducing Christmas lines slowly, building up as the 25th nears. “The key is to introduce lines slowly in October and early November and make sure that customers know that you have a Christmas offer,” he explains.

He says many of the lines on offer at Bestway are available as single items in addition to full cases to help retailers manage their cash flow and stock control. “By making product available as singles, we are offering retailers the chance to build momentum early and then capitalise on demand by purchasing full cases once they have established shopper demand,” Holmes explains.

Even some of the most experienced of retailers can find this time of year hard work. “It’s a bit of a daunting experience,” admits Kay Patel, who owns four stores in Stratford, East London. “November tends to be the calm before the storm, and December is when sales go up by about 15% compared with other months.”

Ryan Thomson is feeling the pressure of the prep for his second Christmas at Tagon Stores, Shetland, but he’s looking forward to enjoying a festive period where he has a much better idea of what to expect.

“Compared with an average winter month, we sell about two-and-a -half times more in December. This is bearing in mind we are a lot busier in the summer when the tourists come.”

Haribo makes it a cracker of a line-up

This year Starmix has created the limited-edition Starmixmas (200g bags) to add some festive sparkle to its seasonal range.

Bringing the flavours and colours of Christmas into one bag, Starmixmas offers eggnog egg, cherry trifle heart, apple strudel bottle, apple strudel and custard rings and gingerbread bears.

Also new to Haribo’s line-up is the Mega Stars Selection Gift Box, designed as a present and featuring a label that can be personalised.

The Mega Stars Selection Gift Box is available in both 300g and 600g sizes and contains Haribo’s most loved treats. The 300g box contains 4x75g bags of Starmix, Tangfastics, Super Mix and Giant Strawbs. The 600g box contains 6x100g bags of Starmix, Tangfastics, Super Mix, Goldbears, Jelly Babies and Giant Strawbs.

For those secret Santa’s and stocking fillers, Haribo has a cracking solution – top-selling treats in a cracker-shaped gift box, filled with 120g Starmix or Tangfastics.

With a focus on offering sweet gestures, the Dorothy Box returns to take its place in the Christmas portfolio.

The 400g box is described as the perfect showcase for the top-selling Starmix and Tangfastics.

Wrapping up the range is a 720g Fun Tub containing 24 individually-wrapped bags of Starmix, Tangfastics and Super Mix.

Even small store owners who don’t stock the big Christmas dinner elements still see a huge uptake in the run up to Christmas. Tony Cristofaro, owner of Spar Landmark Place in Cardiff, says his sales go up by 10-15% during December. This is nearly all from impulse purchases of snacking products.

“In the run up to Christmas people spend a lot more money in one visit and tend to be much more likely to buy on impulse, and buy more expensive items on impulse as well.”

Tony intends to cash in on this by offering upmarket gift ideas. “This year we have brought in a special stand for Bayliss & Harding gifting ideas. These are priced at £5.99, or two for £10. Hopefully, these will sell well. Last year we had a red stand next to the till just for gift boxes with mini prosecco and chocolates inside – these were really popular so we’ll do those again this year.”

Vip also makes the most of the opportunity to make big sales through gifting items, as well as selling Christmas trees. “We did Christmas flowers last year. Our gift bouquets ranged from £5 to £15 and you’re talking a 37% mark-up.

“We also had real Christmas trees through One Stop. They were on sale at £25 and you’re looking at a 28% mark-up. We sold 10 in total and they came on a portable trolley so it was easy to wheel them outside the shop front and then back in again.”

And there are plenty of other more expensive items which retailers should not neglect to offer. “In previous years, we’ve sold a lot of batteries and spirits,” Vip says, “although I think that’s reduced a little bit over the past couple of years and we’re seeing more of a spread of things throughout the shop. You still get people coming in at the last minute for gravy, though.”

He gives his shoppers a prompt about products they might need. “We’ve had PayPoint for the last couple of years and we put a reminder on Facebook telling customers: ‘Don’t spoil your turkey, because your electric can go off.’

“Mobile phone top-up vouchers are also popular – kids get given new phones for Christmas and they need credit.”

Kay Patel also tries to make sure shoppers don’t forget any essentials. He says: “In the couple of weeks leading up to Christmas Day we will have a couple of shelves devoted to Christmas, with everything you might need for Christmas Day including plastic cups and plates. We also find a place to put Christmas hampers. We have a wide range priced at anything from £9.99 to £75.

“There’s always a chance that you won’t sell all the hampers you stock, but we display these all around the store, on top of fridges and all sorts, and they act as a bit of Christmas theatre so they serve two purposes. Plus, they are made up of items that you are selling in store anyway, such as boxes of chocolates, bottles of Baileys and Scotch, so that means that you can still sell them as individual items if you can’t sell the hamper.”

Ryan ordered six hampers last year which cost £14.99 and £24 and they sold out within two days. This year he plans to get in a lot more and to order them from a local supplier who makes fudge.

“All those we sold last year we bought purely on impulse, so that was a huge upselling opportunity.”

Along with all the sweet treats being snapped up, there are other easy-to-overlook items that will be needed over the winter period, such as firelighters. Says Richard Harris, sales and marketing director at Zip brand owner Standard Brands: “With a colder snap predicted for winter 2016-17, along with a significant increase in the number of households installing log-burners, the demand for products to help get their flames burning is set to ignite.

“Zip High Performance Energy Firelighters 20s pricemarked £1.79 and Zip Fast & Clean Wrapped Firelighters 16s pricemarked £2.69 are the leading SKUs which we recommend retailers should stock.”

Gifts from Burton’s Biscuits

Burton’s Biscuit Company has given its Cadbury Christmas biscuits range a new look for 2016, including NPD and updates to its best-selling seasonal biscuit assortments.

The line-up includes gifting tins, sharing assortments and stocking fillers (rrp £1.79-£5), plus new Cadbury Snowy Fingers. Available in 115g (rrp £1.29) and 230g (rrp £2.49) packs, the product features a shortcake finger biscuit coated in both milk and white chocolate.

David Costello, head of category and shopper management at Burton’s Biscuit Company, says: “With this new launch, the Cadbury Fingers brand aims to attract new shoppers to the fixture, drive category growth of seasonal biscuits and in turn help retailers grow sales this Christmas.”

Another SKU is the Cadbury Fingers Star assortment featuring four flavours of Cadbury Fingers – milk, white, salted caramel and snowy fingers – in a star-shaped pack (rrp £4 per 330g).

Burton’s has also introduced Cadbury Mini Fingers Stackables – three stacking tins each containing a different flavour of Mini Fingers (rrp £5 per 330g). Joining it is a Cadbury Fingers milk and white chocolate assortment tin (rrp £3 per 228g) and Cadbury Biscuit Assortment Tin (rrp £5 per 340g) with a new pack design and shape as well as newly-developed white and dark chocolate biscuits and the introduction of the Crunchie biscuit.

Deck the halls

Creating theatre is a good way to get shoppers in the spirit and ready to spend, and the need for decorations in a store is fairly conclusive. Steve Manning puts Christmas lights up outside the front of his store and makes an effort inside, too. “We have a Merry Christmas sign behind the counter. We also have a radio playing a variety of Christmas songs and we might do a Christmas raffle this year.”

Merys increases her level of theatre as the big day gets closer. “We have displays of Christmas confectionery out from September and then we put bells and snow spray in the windows and a little tinsel up from 1 December, and we put up a cake display as well. Blakemore sends us festive POS material to use around the store.

“The customers really appreciate us making an effort at Christmas and everyone is excited and happy. We have a radio playing festive music, too, it’s a good atmosphere.”

She also likes to show the store cares by doing some charity and community activity. “We’ll probably do some NSPCC activity in-store. Staff have dressed up in Christmas jumpers on previous years and we had collection buckets. We also donate vouchers from the Blakemore Foundation to anyone who comes into the store asking for raffle prizes. We run an in-store raffle for a hamper made up of store products, and staff bake cakes to sell.”

Tony will definitely be decorating for Christmas. “It creates a good atmosphere and we put Christmas window stickers up, which I think attracts people into the store.”

Ryan plans to promote his Christmas gift ideas and alcohol promotions using the new digital display which he has just had installed behind his counter.

Simon says his store and the other local shop owners fund the Christmas lights which are on display in the shopping parade in Marchwood. While shoppers may not realise they are funded by business instead of the council, Simon believes it is well worth it for the good spirit they create.

The staff at Ryan’s store will be dressing up in Christmas costumes on Christmas Eve to show they are getting into the Christmas spirit. Kay’s staff give out free drinks, while Spar and Eurospar stores are often honoured with a visit from Santa Claus himself. At Brennans Spar Seaforde and Eurospar Ardglass, children from the local area were able to put in their last-minute Christmas wishes, while parents were treated to some tasty festive treats and carols.

Vip also likes to show his appreciation to customers on Christmas Day. “For the past eight years, every customer who comes in is given a Christmas present generated by the surplus of freebies we’ve had over the year – Kellogg’s Cocoa Pops mugs, Bulmers T-shirts and so on.”

He ensures his staff are very much in the spirit and this has done wonders for his store’s reputation. “Both stores will be dressed up for Christmas,” he explains. The promotional bays will be filled with Christmas goodies. We’ll have mini Christmas trees up, tinsel round the counter, and staff are in Santa hats and Christmas jumpers. We have to stick to the One Stop planograms, but last year my wife made a chair out of beer stacks at Prior Way and got people to take a selfie on the chair for a chance to win a crate of beer. We managed to get 3,000 hits on social media!

“We go to all the local Christmas fairs and donate raffle prizes. It’s quite fun as you get lots of people asking for things and we generally give everyone something. This year, we’re getting selection boxes for the kids at the local school.”

While consumers will be preparing in the weeks and months running up to Christmas, an eighth of shoppers will still do their food & drink shopping on Christmas Day itself, according to HIM.

Retailers’ experiences definitely back up this research. “Generally, the lead up to Christmas is a little slow, but then once people have broken up from work it goes wild,” Vip says. “I think most people will finish work on a Friday this year and then it will be really busy.”

Barrie Seymour of Londis Littletown in West Yorkshire says he makes as much money in three hours on Christmas Day as he usually would in an entire day of trading. He opens from 11am until 2pm.

“People will be lining up outside when I open. They’re mad! But people will come in for things they’ve forgotten, and people running local pubs and restaurants will come in if they run out of something.”

Steve does a full day, opening from 8am until 6pm. He says he made £3,000 last year, so it was well worth being open.

Simon opens his store for four hours on Christmas Day and sells more then than on a standard day of trading. People even come into his store looking for turkey for their Christmas dinner, he reports.

On Christmas Day Merys will open her store from 10am until 2pm. She says she tends to get people coming in for last-minute products such as tin foil, gravy and batteries – the types of things that people can forget easily when concentrating on the bigger items.

Even those who open for just a couple of hours do well on 25 December. Vip’s store will be open from 10am until midday, but he says it’s good business in that time.

“We’ve had people come in looking for turkeys, who have bought their bird well in advance and then gone to cook them the day before and found they’ve gone off. There are plenty of people coming in for last-minute extras and things they’ve forgotten, too, from Yorkshire puddings to bottles of Champagne.”

Cracking cakes from McVitie’s

McVitie’s 2016 Christmas cake range is now available.

New to the range is Galaxy Salted Caramel Cake Bars, providing a chocolate sponge topped with a layer of chocolate cream and a layer of salted caramel encased in Galaxy milk chocolate (packs of five, rrp £1).

The range also includes McVitie’s Digestives Coconut Teacakes (rrp £1) available in packs of six individually-wrapped cakes. These combine a base of McVitie’s Digestives with soft marshmallow, encased in milk chocolate and topped with coconut snowflake-like frosting.

The brand’s Hobnobs Flapjacks Slices in apple & cinnamon flavour (rrp £1) are available in packs of five with eye-catching festive packaging.

The brand’s Chocolate & Mint Digestives Slices have been given a festive design. These infused frosty mint slices (five slices per pack, rrp £1) are topped with creamy milk chocolate.

Celebrations Festive Christmas Cracker brings a Christmassy twist on consumers’ favourite Mars’ products with 12 individually-wrapped cake bars and flapjacks (rrp £3).

The Mars Cake Bars are back this year. The five individually-wrapped bars with soft chocolate sponge topped with caramel and chocolate layers (rrp £1) have been given a festive makeover.

Robert Byford, of Byfords Foodhall in Leigh-On-Sea, Essex, gets his fair share of turkey sales thanks to his reputation for offering fresh and high-quality meat.

“We started in butchery 49 years ago and added the Londis 24 years ago. The huge growth at Christmas is on the meat side of the business. We sell 350-400 fresh turkeys at an average price of £70, and 200 gammons. It keeps us busy! We get turkeys from the likes of Kellys – they are the cream of the farmers. We also mature our beef for four to five weeks before we sell it. It’s worth it because at Christmas people have company and they want to treat their guests – they don’t want a dry old turkey. You have to look for 40% margins on the meat side. We prep all of the meat first so we need the high margins.”

Kay opens for six hours, from 9am until 3pm, and makes two days-worth of revenue in that time. He admits that sorting out staffing can be a tough part of providing this service, but he says he only needs two members of staff.

“Shoppers are a lot more forgiving on Christmas Day. They won’t judge you if they have to wait in line a little longer than usual, or if the shelves are starting to empty. So it’s not too difficult to get in a skeleton team of staff for that day.”

Merry Christmas from Marmite

Unilever UK has unveiled its limited-edition Marmite Christmas gifting range, which includes a Marmite Biscuit Tin, Marmite Chocolate Jar and a Love It! Or Hate It! Chocolate Truffle Box.

The latest innovations by the iconic British brand aim to build on the success of the Marmite Easter Egg.

Marmite chocolate presents a unique flavour combination – smooth sweet milk chocolate with a savoury Marmite twist for a special treat.

The Marmite Chocolate Jar is a jar modelled out of Marmite Chocolate, while The Love It! Or Hate It! Chocolate Truffle Box is a mix of Marmite and chocolate-flavoured truffles, and includes an on-pack game to get the conversation going at gatherings.

Completing the range is the Marmite Biscuit Tin, which includes buttery biscuits with Marmite.

Unilever UK senior licensing manager Chloe Irwin says: “The popularity of Marmite Easter Eggs has shown that Marmite-flavoured chocolate is a big hit, so the new chocolate and biscuit products are sure to create opportunities for sales in the run up to Christmas.”

The Marmite Chocolate Jar (rrp £5), Love It! Or Hate It! Chocolate Truffle Box (rrp £4) and Marmite Biscuit Tin (rrp £6) are available now.

Another characteristic of Christmas shoppers is the desire to impress their guests and splash out on items they wouldn’t otherwise buy, such as speciality cheese. December sees the penetration into the speciality cheese category more than double (Kantar, Total Market, penetration 2015), making it the second most-shopped cheese category after Cheddar.

And it’s not only with cheese that people like to go premium. Simon says his shoppers trade up across the board, whether it’s their mint sauce, their tableware, or even the brand of toilet roll they buy. “The average basket spend goes up not only because people are buying more, but because they are trading up on each item. The frequency of purchase also increases,” he asserts.

“I would advise other retailers that this is a good time to try out more premium products that you haven’t stocked before as this is the time when customers are most likely to try out something new and a bit more expensive.”

While shoppers are tempted to buy early and on impulse when it comes to advent calendars, decorations, gifting items, drinks and snacks, fresh foods need to be bought at the last moment, and getting the balance of supply and demand right can be tricky.

“We bring in Brussels sprouts, parsnips, all of the trimmings,” says Kay. “Initially, we can get some wastage as it can take a bit of time for people to realise you have started to sell those items, but it’s important to have everything needed for the Christmas dinner.

“We also make sure to have the whole range of cheeses so people can make a good board from our selection.”

Vip says seasonal veg is one area he struggles with because the supermarkets have always sold seasonal vegetables so cheaply. “It was 34p for a bag of carrots in the supermarkets and we were selling them for 75p, so it was hard to compete. It was scary to take a gamble on this area, so we didn’t stock up massively expecting people to come in for it.

“This year, we’ve learnt from One Stop to put dinner elements together. We have shelf-barkers linking different ingredients for a particular dish, such as peppers and chicken for a stir-fry. So I expect we’ll do the same for Christmas dinner, too.”

Baking with The Snowman

Raymond Briggs’ iconic Snowman and The Snowdog can be brought to life with two home-baking kits featuring the lovable characters.

The first of the two new releases from baking decoration specialist Cake Angels is The Snowman Chocolate Muffin Kit, which features printed muffin cases, a chocolate muffin mix, icing sugar and edible character themed wafers (rrp £1.89).

Second is The Snowman Gingerbread Kit which includes a gingerbread biscuit mix, white fondant icing, green and black writing icing tubes, snowman stencil with decorating guidance and jellybeans (rrp £2.50). Both kits have no artificial colours or flavours and no hydrogenated fats.

Neal Jones, of Spar in Hazel Grove, Stockport, avoids a lot of the potential waste that comes with selling festive fresh food by making use of James Hall & Co’s Christmas Food to Order service. Retailers are able to place orders for customers from a range of almost 100 festive products from Spar’s retail partner for the North of England, and shoppers choose a date suitable to collect their orders in-store.

“With the bonus of guaranteed sales – all orders placed last year were collected – and increased basket spend, having the package available also changes customer perception. The Christmas Food brochure was an incredibly valuable addition both to extra sales and cash profit in store, as well as offering top-quality seasonal lines to our customers,” explains Neal.

“Moving forward, we want to get behind the Christmas brochure even more as we see potential for this to grow following great customer feedback from last year.”

Whether your store is selling turkey and all the trimmings, or concentrating on confectionery, it’s important to make the most of this time of year with excellent range, availability and plenty of special premium products.

Merys says: “My main advice to other retailers would be to make sure they have their key items well stocked, such as Prosecco, Cava, cranberry sauce and trifle, both for Christmas and for New Year’s Eve when you get a second rush as people start to prepare for parties.”

Vip adds: “You need to be prepared – stock up on the essential items, things like Advocaat for eggnog – the items you know people will want. Availability is vital – it’s a time to get big sales, and empty shelves won’t help.”

Stocking filler solutions

One in three households buys a treat product over the festive period (Nielsen, Total Coverage, Total Chocolate MAT week ending 26 December 2015), making novelties a must-stock for retailers.

The Maltesers Merryteaser Reindeer took the reins as the number one self-treat in Christmas 2015.

In addition, the sharing bag was ranked the number two sharing bag in its first Christmas (Nielsen) last year, and with the small sharing category now up 32% growth (Nielsen), the firm expects it to fly off the shelves once again.

The Merryteaser Reindeer (rrp 65p, or rrp £1.29 for a sharing bag) will be supported by in-store activation, including a range of POS and pre-filled solutions, to raise awareness and boost impulse purchases.

Galaxy Gift for You White (rrp 65p) is also returning for another year, but with a twist. As one of the top 10 self-treats at Christmas (Nielsen, Total Coverage, Total Chocolate MAT week ending 26 December 2015), it is being rebranded to drive standout in 2016.

Tubes of chocolates and sweets are worth £19.6m (Nielsen) and Maltesers was the number five best-selling tube in 2015, while Galaxy Minstrels also featured in the top 10. Both return to retailers’ shelves this season.

Other Mars Chocolate favourites including M&M’s and Milkyway Magic Stars are also available in tube format (rrp £1.70), while the Maltesers Giant Cracker (rrp £4) is the number six SKU in giant novelties (Nielsen).

New for Christmas 2016 is the Galaxy Giant 3x390g (rrp £10.99).



Sweet treats from Swizzels

British sweet maker Swizzels has a range of Christmas-themed treats.

The Drumstick Squashies Cartons (rrp £1 for 140g and £3 for 350g) are filled with raspberry & milk flavour Drumstick Squashies. The firm claims that more than 100 million bags of Squashies have been sold since launch.

The Drumstick Gift Box (rrp £3) is another new arrival. Containing a selection of Drumstick Squashies, Drumstick Bon Bons, and Drumstick Lollies, the 362g box is a good alternative to chocolate gifts.

The Swizzels Sweet Shop Favourites tin continues to be popular over the festive season, having been the single best-selling sugar confectionery product every Christmas since its launch in 2013. The classically-branded tin is packed with Swizzels’ most popular brands including Squashies, Love Hearts and Parma Violets.

The Swizzels Sweet Treats gift tube is also available, filled with Love Hearts, Drumstick Lollies and Refresher Bars.

Other Swizzels products include individual gift tubes filled with its classic brands including Drumstick Lollies, Refreshers, Love Hearts and Parma Violets. The Sweet Extravaganza gift tube is also a top-seller – the extra-long gift tube is filled with Swizzels best-loved sweets.

Swizzels claims that its share of kids’ sugar confectionery increased from 11% to 13% over the 2015 Christmas period. Swizzels NPD brand manager Emma Herring says: “Our range offers value for money and great variety, something all customers are looking for at this time of year.”