Light up your sales during the annual five-day winter celebrations

1. Over 817,000 people celebrate Diwali in the UK 

2. Post-Covid celebrations are good news for c-stores

3. Ignite your lighter sales

4. Get the (non-alcoholic) drinks in

5. Stock up for a feast

6. Demographics are key


1. Over 817,000 people celebrate Diwali in the UK 

2011 census

Diwali is an annual festival celebrating the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. And who wouldn’t want to buy into a bit of that in 2022?

Certainly the 817,000-strong Hindu population of the UK, who join some Jain, Sikh and Buddhist communities to come together for a five-day celebration of delicious food, drink and winter lights.

Bobby Singh, from BB Nevison Superstore and Post Office in Pontefract, West Yorkshire, says that it’s a brilliant opportunity to bring people together. “Where we are I don’t think there’s that much awareness of Diwali,” he says.

“But as time has gone on there’s definitely more interest in multicultural events. So we make a point of celebrating it as we do Christmas and everything else. The whole main aspect of it is that it’s a festival of lights. So, like Christmas, we make the store colourful and put lights up. It helps bring different cultures and communities together.”

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2. Post-Covid celebrations are good news for c-stores

With many large-scale Diwali celebrations cancelled in cities around the UK last year, this could be the year communities really go to town. All of which means the opportunity for more incremental sales at c-stores with the right stock.

“Families and friends are still making up for time lost throughout the pandemic and this year’s Diwali sales aim to be up in comparison to last year,” says Alec Gladok, marketing manager for Regal Food Products Group Plc.

People will always splash out for Diwali. But cost-of-living pressures may mean they decide to entertain more at home in 2022. Which means retailers need to have the essentials in-store.

“Celebrations such as Halloween, Bonfire Night and Diwali are important diary events for shoppers after years of restrictions around gatherings,” says Gavin Anderson, sales and marketing director at Republic Technologies UK. “Add to this a low confidence in spending, and consumers will undoubtedly choose to host more events at home instead of going out again this year.”

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3. Ignite your lighter sales

During the festival, people decorate their homes with special oil lamps, called diyas, to light up the night. That means c-stores with the right demographic can make extra sales by making sure shoppers have lighters and matches to hand.

“Sales of matches typically increase from September through to December [IRI] with virtually every household having a use for them as the nights get colder and darker, says Anderson.

Retailers with strong seasonal fixtures will benefit from shoppers who need more illumination.

“The margins on matches and lighters make them a no-brainer for retailers, especially those with limited shelf space, to boost seasonal sales,” says Anderson.

He adds that the brand’s Lumiere range includes the UK’s fastest-growing utility lighter (IRI). The lighters are available on clip strips and in shelf-ready outers in a range of metallic colours to help create an eye-catching display.

“We advise retailers to dual site matches and lighters with candles and other related products, to benefit from increased demand across categories and boost basket spend with impulse purchases,” says Anderson.

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4. Get the (non-alcoholic) drinks in

Diwali can be a boom time for soft drinks as shoppers seek out non-alcoholic serves that can add some sparkle to the celebrations. Adrian Troy, marketing director at Barr Soft Drinks, says that exotic flavoured fruit drinks are a popular choice during festivities.

“Traditional shoppers will be looking for brands that they know and trust, and our research shows that Rubicon shoppers are loyal over the Diwali period, with 92% of their spend going towards the brand [IRI] , safe in the knowledge it can be perfectly paired with many popular Diwali food dishes,” he says.

“New shoppers use events and celebrations as inspiration to try something new, so Rubicon’s wide range of flavours and formats, available in still and sparkling variants, has broad appeal for every shopper.”

Troy notes that Diwali is getting bigger and more profitable for retailers each year, with Rubicon doubling its sales during the festival last year vs 2020 and 2019 (IRI).

“With Rubicon Sparkling and Rubicon Still seeing a 17% and 7.5% uplift respectively during Diwali, we recommend that retailers stock a wide range of Rubicon flavours in 2L packs, with a variety of sparkling and still SKUs,” he says. “Having a range of flavours is important, as shoppers will be catering for a number of different tastes amongst family and friends, but so too is ensuring availability of larger pack formats throughout peak shopping times.”

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5. Stock up for a feast

Like many festivals, Diwali is all about the food, as Bobby explains.

“Diwali is a feast, so that means Indian sweets and other treats,” he says.

“We give out treats to all our customers to celebrate. It’s just a lovely gesture isn’t it?”

“Like most celebrations there is no festival without a feast, weather this is around the table or snacking late into the evening, convenience stores can provide great windows of opportunity for customers to stock up on those festival treats – treat lines that are essential and a must for the convenience store and its customers,” adds Gladock.

“To drive maximum sales, it is important to offer a diverse selection of treats, ensuring there are options to suit all demographics. As well as stocking those traditional products, it is just as essential to feature those modern classics too such as potato crisps, popcorn and sweets.”

Plus there’s a few lines that retailers can’t do without.

“There is a range of categories that are a ‘must have’ when planning your Diwali offer. In the run up to the festival a strong impulse range is essential within the store, including: a range of tropical juices – such as Mango and other exotic flavours, cakes and biscuits (in particular egg free biscuits and cookies), cake rusk and pastries (Egg-Free Cake Rusk, Puff Pastry Fingers, Sweet Bakar Khani and crunchy tea rusk) and savouries and snacks (Bombay Mix, dried figs and apricots, Pheonian),” says Gladock.

He adds that location is everything when merchandising Diwali food in-store.

“Display your Diwali product range in a prime location ensuring all merchandise and key impulse lines are displayed together, enabling the customer an easy shopping experience, and ultimately giving them the option of trying something new during the festival. Offering multi-buy discounts across your range is also a great way of doing this.”

“Diwali is a key festival for many of our customers and presents a great opportunity for independent retailers to drive sales,” says Anna Beheshti, brand lead at Tilda.

“In addition to traditional Diwali foods including Indian sweets, nuts, dried fruits and herbs and spices, Basmati Rice and Grand Extra Long Basmati play a particularly central role during this celebration because of their natural versatility that complements other flavours and should therefore be made available during the festivities.”

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6. Demographics are key

Celebrating Diwali in-store is a positive way to bring cheer to customers as the nights get longer. But to go big on it means having the right customer demographic nearby.

“I think it’s down to location,” advises Shakil Dharas of Shak’s News Ltd in Leicester.

“It needs to be shops where there’s a hub of a large Indian population. We tried it in our store last year and it works best when you have that population right on your doorstep.”

Whether you’re celebrating privately, or with customers, everyone at Convenience Store wishes you a Diwali that brings happiness, prosperity and joy to you and all your family. Now where did I put that lighter?

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