The Christmas decorations might still be out, but it’s time to start 
hatching your Easter plans and preparing your store for spring

With last Easter falling at the end of March, retailers had a relatively short window in which to get products out onto the shop floor. Thankfully, Easter 2017 is on April 16, offering an extra fortnight’s worth of selling time, but getting treat items out in-store as soon as possible remains as important as ever.

Stores should be ready to showcase their Easter displays early, says Hancocks Cash & Carry. “Hancocks will start selling Easter confectionery in store from January,” says purchasing director Jonathan Summerley. “Consumers start looking forward to the spring season as soon as the festivities of Christmas die down. Impulse and self-eat lines are imperative to success early in the season as they are an ideal ‘pick me up’ treat for on-the-go shoppers facing the winter blues. Ensure POS material and merchandising is fresh and reflects spring to help consumers feel a sense of escapism.”

Cadbury Gifting senior brand manager Hortense Foult Rothenburger agrees. “In January, Christmas is gone, it’s grey outside and people are looking for something to lift them up. This is where self-treating is very important.”

This certainly rings true at Sherston Village Stores in Wiltshire. “The treat products did really well last year, even when Easter was early,” says owner Paul Mather. “In the winter, there’s nothing better than thinking of spring and I think people have that positive association with eggs.”

Summerley advises retailers to stock a range of impulse and single-serve lines as these are imperative to success early in the season and form a foundation for future sales. “Impulse lines are often used by shoppers to gauge the quality of products and serve as an excellent reminder for them to revisit later on in the season for larger gift items. Creme Eggs are the top-selling impulse line and will be stocked in Hancocks cash and carries from December.”

Paul Cornell, owner of Nisa Castle Stores in Chelmsford, Essex, is sure to be quick off the mark. “We sell absolutely tonnes of Creme Eggs,” he says.

“We bring them out just before Christmas. We were expecting people to say that it was far too early, but they loved them. There’s no point in keeping products in the warehouse – you’ll only sell them on the shop floor. Mini Eggs come in just after Christmas. We put them on hangers on a hod.”

Simon Lunn, owner of Simply Fresh Weare in Axbridge, Somerset, isn’t wasting any time with his Easter offerings, either. “We had our new Costcutter Connect book through with pre-sells in October,” he says. “You order Christmas in August and Easter in November. If we don’t pre-order now, we may not get the products in when they’re on promotion, so we have to be organised.

“We’ll get Creme Eggs on shelf as soon as they come in this month. It’s a bit of a novelty to have Easter products at Christmas. You’ll get the odd comment, people saying they’re early, but they do sell. We get Cadbury Mini Eggs in in December as well.”

He ensures that they are given excellent visibility. “Before we put up our main display at the end of January, we put Creme Eggs on the counter top or in a dumpbin or display hod nearby. You can’t lose with Creme Eggs and Mini Eggs. Some things are more Marmite – people love or hate them – but everyone loves those lines.”

Cadbury Creme Egg is worth an impressive £48m, while the Mini Eggs brand has a retail sales value of £41.8m, according to Mondelez International. “Creme Egg is the number one self-eat [from January to Easter] and the number one Easter brand, while Cadbury Mini Eggs is the second Easter brand and the 90g bag is the number one SKU, worth £21.3m retail sales value,” says Foult Rothenburger. Cadbury claims to be the biggest advertiser at Easter with a £10m spend for 2017, and the firm has grand plans for Creme Egg this year, following 2016’s successful activity.

Last Easter the firm used Snap Chat to launch a sponsored lens, which was available for just 12 hours on March 12. “It was a successful campaign with a unique platform and tone of voice, which worked well with the brand’s quirky character,” says Aislinn Campbell, brand manager – Easter (Cadbury Creme Eggs and Shell Eggs). “The lens received a massive 10 million views by five million people.”

The firm also introduced the Creme Egg Café, where people could order Creme Egg toasties. It claims that fans were queuing for up to three hours to enter.

Campbell adds: “In 2017 Mondelez has a new campaign idea and a £4m marketing spend, which will encompass TV, experiential, social media activity 
and a partnership with a big bakery.”

Creme Egg and Mini Eggs are big players at Costcutter Narborough in Leicestershire. “Cadbury Mini Eggs and Creme Eggs are put out first,” says owner Jagbir Ashwal. “In the week before Christmas we fill in the gaps where Christmas stock starts to thin out. People forget about Creme Eggs over the course of the year and they are pleased to see them back on the shelf.”

Hunts Spar Lostock Hall in Preston, Lancashire, has also witnessed customers welcoming Creme Eggs with open arms. “We get our Creme Eggs out on Boxing Day,” explains manager Steph Latham. “We have a deal selling two Creme Eggs for 90p. They’ve become a real novelty; people miss them when they aren’t available. People love Mini Eggs round here, too. They’re the best two lines throughout Easter.”

In Upper Beeding in West Sussex, Nisa store owner Jayesh Patel is looking forward to another prosperous spring. “We had a good Easter last year. All my seasonal sales are excellent, we always sell out,” he says. “Cadbury Creme Eggs come in at the beginning of January. We sell them at three for £1.20. Mini Eggs come in a little later. Smarties Choc Chicks are a steady line, too. We display the small lines in hods near the counter or in countertop units.”

Treat items are out early at St Mary’s Gate Stone Spar, Manchester, too. “Last year we had our first Creme Egg delivery on Boxing Day,” says manager Nick Parker. “This year I’ve ordered Creme Eggs and Mini Eggs to arrive early again. We usually offer the Creme Eggs on three for £1.20 and people do say ‘Creme Eggs already?’ but they still pick them up”.

Advice from Mars chocolate

Mars Chocolate has these tips 
for maximising Easter confectionery sales:

Easter is on the radar for consumers as early as January, so retailers should ensure they are stocked up from the beginning of the year, with a particular focus on treat products such as Malteaster Bunny and Galaxy Golden Eggs

Capitalise on the impulsivity of confectionery by placing products at the front of store where possible, as shoppers are more open to impulse purchases when they first arrive

Utilise promotions – these are often key to triggering the purchase of eggs

POS material can create in-store theatre, especially as Easter is a busy time in-store.

Paul Mather prefers to wait until January to unleash his Easter treats. “We have a policy not to put Easter products in store until after Christmas. I think it sends a mixed message to customers, especially because we are a small shop. It takes the mick to try to sell Easter when Christmas isn’t over.

“We’ll have Creme Eggs out in January – they’re the big seller. We put small products on the counter to promote them initially. When it comes to promotions it depends on what we can do with the reps, but we might run a two for £1 offer.”

One retailer who is even more excited about Easter than the kids is Navin Soni, who owns five Thriftys stores in Merseyside. “Easter is better than Christmas for us – we have tremendous sales and we don’t have a lull afterwards like we do at Christmas,” he says. “We get bags of Mini Eggs in early and then when they sell through we’ll get two or three pallets of promotional stock and sell them at two for £1 closer to Easter when all of the cash and carries reduce them to get rid of them. We just jump on it.

“We get Creme Eggs in, too, but we don’t go heavy unless we get them on promotion. We’ll buy one or two cases at the normal prices and then we’ll do three for £1.20 when a promotion comes through. If people buy something cheap, they generally don’t respect the value of it, so if they buy three Cadbury Creme Eggs at once, they’ll often eat all three in one sitting and then come back the next day for more!”

And they aren’t the only lines that perform well for Navin during early spring. “We sell what I call Easter stocking fillers – big bags of M&Ms at £1, three bags of Kinder Choco-Bons for £1 and four Kinder Bunnies for £1,” says Navin. “They’re all add-on sales and they’re so cheap that people just buy them.”

Simon at Simply Fresh Weare also speaks highly of Kinder products. “Kinder is another big one for us. Kinder Joy are selling well and will perform well throughout Easter. Kids love the toy element.”

Says Ferrero customer development director Levi Boorer: “Kinder Joy was the star of spring last year and it will make a return in 2017 following a hugely successful introduction to the market last year.”

Sales exceeded £5.3m last Easter and the line will be supported with heavyweight shopper marketing and in-store displays this year with the aim of topping that. “Retailers are encouraged to stock up in January to make sure they meet the demand for shoppers looking to purchase in advance,” Boorer adds.

Simon at Simply Fresh Weare claims that Easter trends are notoriously difficult to predict. “We were very pleased with our novelty sales last Easter, but it is so unpredictable. You don’t know if you got it right or wrong until after the event. Last year everything but Egg ‘n’ Spoon and Malteaster Bunnies sold. I’ve made a note not to order as many as in 2016.”

The bunnies are also a slow seller at Nisa Upper Beeding. But it’s a different story altogether at St Mary’s Gate Stone Spar. “Malteaster Bunnies sell really well, so they’re coming in before Christmas,” says Nick. “We normally promote them at two for £1.”

Paul Cornell also makes room for Malteaster Bunnies. “We sell them off the countertop around the end of January and beginning of February,” he says.

They are a big hit at Sherston Village Stores, too. “Malteaster Bunnies do well – they’re a bit of fun for the kids,” says owner Paul Mather. “We have Mondelez and Mars reps visit regularly, both are very good and work well with us.”

Mars claims that one in two people buy Maltesers products and that the bunny is the nation’s number two self-eat product. The bunny will be available from January, rrp 62p, and will now also come in a pack of five with an rrp of £2.39.

Mini Bunnies are back for 2017, having achieved the number three spot in the small sharing segment last year, states Mars. Each bag contains individually-wrapped Mini Bunnies, which the firm claims are great for sharing over the seasonal period. Joining the Malteaster family in 2017 is Malteaster Family Mix, which contains four Malteaster bunnies, six mini bunnies and two bags of Maltesers fun size.

Retailers get a chance to win

2017 will see the return of the Cadbury Gooless campaign. Every day in the run up to Easter a gooless Cadbury Creme Egg will be planted in a UK store, with the customer who finds it instantly winning £1,000 and the retailer where the egg is found winning £1,000 in stock or Love to Shop vouchers.

As with previous years, the competition will be exclusive to the independent sector.

In another promotion, Mondelez is encouraging retailers to send photos of their Easter fixtures to its Delicious Displays website,, for the chance to win £250 in Love to Shop vouchers as part of its Take a Shelfie competition.

Galaxy Golden Eggs returns for Easter 2017 following a successful launch last year when it became the season’s number two small sharing bag, according to Mars.

“These formats support the rapidly-expanding sharing segment at Easter, which in the past five years has grown 8%,” says trade communications manager Bep Dhaliwal. “Chocolate has always been an integral part of Easter, so retailers should ensure they maximise the sales opportunity during the Easter period.”

Another long-eared treat vying for attention this Easter is the Lindt Bunny. Customers at Jagbir’s store went hopping mad for both Lindt and Malteaster Bunnies in 2016. “As part of our promotions set-up, we’ll run Easter lines such as Malteaster Bunnies and Lindt Bunnies at a strong price point. They offer a good point of difference as people don’t expect to see them in a c-store.

“We have three promotional cycles through Easter and we’ll change the counter lines to keep it fresh. Seeing Lindt Bunnies automatically sends the Lindt bar sales up, and the same for Teaser Bars and Malteaster Bunnies. We often see a spike in those after the promotions.

“Lindt Bunnies did really well last year. We sold six cases in two weeks at three for £1, so we’ll look to do more of those this time round.”

Lindt Bunnies are also a big seller for Paul Cornell. “We sell them at 40p each or three for £1. I ordered 14 cases.”

But not all retailers strike gold with this product. “Lindt Bunnies don’t do well here,” admits Steph. “They are very small and people don’t buy into them. People are very money-conscious round here. It’s important to look at what lines are the best value for your customers.”

In contrast, she finds that Nestlé’s children’s treat lines are popular. “We have Smarties Choc Chicks and Milkybar Bunnies from January,” she says. “All the small lines go on the till where parents buy them for children, or themselves.”

Clearly, deciding on which Easter treats to stock comes down to knowing your individual customer base and learning from previous years’ sales. But one thing’s for sure: once you have worked out which lines are winners in your store, getting them on-shelf quickly is key.

“Shoppers are looking to buy a seasonal treat for themselves and family to build excitement at the start and throughout the season,” says Mondelez International’s trade communications manager Susan Nash. “This [self-eat] category is now worth £56m and is the biggest opportunity due to its impulsivity. These products help to 
signpost the season and provide a great opportunity to start seasonal sales off early by driving excitement, so stock up from January for a fast start.”

Hancocks’ treats designed to tempt all ages

Hancocks’ Chocolate Rabbit and Eggs drums are returning for Easter 2017. The drums feature 100 foil-wrapped hollow shapes (rrp 10p), which are suited to Easter treating.

“The ideal products to stock during the early season are items which appeal to both children and adults,” says purchasing director Jonathan Summerley. “A push for sharing packs and slabs to enjoy at home with friends and family is also a key way to increase sales.”

Retailers mustn’t underestimate the importance and impact of merchandising products correctly and the affect this can have on sales, he warns. “Retailers need to ensure fixtures are located in high-footfall areas and regularly change and update their fixtures to keep their store looking fresh and enticing. Improve incremental sales by placing products around the store (away from the main fixture) – for example, on gondola ends. This also encourages customers to walk down aisles.

“Displaying countlines and sharing packs near the tills as well as on gondola ends is sure to increase impulse purchases.”