Almost as soon as the turkey dinner has been digested it’s on to the next round of eating, and that means more opportunity for canny retailers

As any retailer worth his or her salt knows, the festive sales opportunity doesn't end once lunch is over. With swathes of leftover turkey languishing in the fridge, consumers' thoughts turn to supper and Boxing Day meals.

That's the value of the mince pie market to convenience in the four-week run up to Christmas, according to KantarWorldpanel.
"People tend to cook just the one main meal on Christmas Day at lunchtime and then have a buffet-style evening meal consisting of a range of sandwiches, cold meats and a cheeseboard with bread and crackers," Wyke Farms managing director Richard Clothier says.

Cold turkey and ham will probably take centre stage, meaning that classic c-store fare such as pickles and preserves will be in demand. According to Premier Foods, which has brought back Branston's limited-edition Red Onion and Cranberry pickle for 2010, 30% of all pickle sales occur in the eight weeks leading up to December 25 and on the day itself.

"During Christmas 2009, the sweet pickle category grew by 8.4% and in December alone 3.7m households bought into the fixture," says Carine San-Juan, head of category, savoury, at Premier Foods.

Trends: Home in on baking 
There is a buzz around homebaking, with penetration up by 3.8% to 5.7% (IRI week ending September 2010). Dr Oetker marketing director Gill Davies says: "Baking is booming and you can't move for it in the press and on TV." 

Mary Young, marketing controller for McDougall's at Premier, adds: "In terms of convenience, particularly on the baking mixes side, it's doing particularly well and outperforming the market overall in value." 

Both agree that retailers need to clearly signpost homebaking sections, which can sometimes be tricky to find. Young says: "It's about getting the basics right and driving visibility and linking deals such as mincemeat and pastry mixes." 

Davies suggest that recipe cards and baking leaflets can all drive sales.
Premium pâtés will also play a starring role in Christmas supper buffets, and thanks to Castle MacLellan c-store retailers will be able to offer a good selection. Its range comes in three varieties, including Chicken Parfait with Brandy, Duck Liver Pâté with Port and Salmon Pâté (rrp from £2.49).

Packs have also been cleverly designed to allow the paté to be easily turned out onto a plate for simple slicing or as part of an elegant buffet.

Speciality breads and French sticks will also be in demand. However, no buffet spread would be complete without a cheeseboard.

"The cheeseboard can become a focal point for late afternoon and evening eating with strong Cheddar and good stilton featuring prominently," adds Wyke Farm's Clothier, who also recommends cross-promoting cheese with bottles of Port. "Our Ivy's Vintage Reserve Cheddar makes a fantastic centrepiece to a Christmas cheeseboard," he points out.

Consider stocking more unusual continental varieties, too, such as goat's cheese, Camembert and Pont L'Eveque.

Also available is Isigny Sainte-Mere's new festive fromage, Camembert with French Olives.

The children don't need to be left out of things either thanks to BabyBel's new Christmas-themed original and Cheddar varieties of the little round cheese.

According to Rosie Tapp, innovation and research manager at Bel UK, cheese sees a sales uplift of 15.8% during the festive season, and last year the festive packs contributed to a 46% increase in Mini Babybel sales.

And with Christmas being the season of 'goodwill to all men', support for local producers is also expected to climb over Christmas, meaning that local speciality cheeses are likely to be real sales spinners.

The same can be said for ethical and environmentally friendly products, adds Ben Harris, business development director at design agency Anthem Worldwide. "As consumers create the most special and often most expensive meal of the year, they will be looking towards selecting the best tasting, and often most ethically sourced products," he says. 

Retailer’s view: Inderjit Dhesi

"We get customers into the spirit of things by decorating the whole store with tinsel. 

"We have four metres and two stands-worth of greetings cards, which tend to do really well in the run up to Christmas. Elderly people like to get in early with their buys, but younger shoppers will leave it until December. I also position boxed cards on the counter as we get a lot of school children in who like to buy cards for their friends. 

"We're competing with the Pound stores in the high street, so it's important that we make our store appear to be good value by keeping prices affordable. 

"In the week before Christmas we see a lot of distress purchases. Wrapping paper sells well, and small presents such as toys or toiletry gift bags. 

"If Christmas falls on a Sunday or Monday we do particularly well as we can open on Sunday, but with it being on a Saturday this year I'm sure we'll still see good sales, especially on Christmas Eve because of the Euromillions draw. 

"On Christmas day we'll open for a couple of hours people generally come in for cigarettes, batteries, milk and bread." 

Inderjit Dhesi , B&D News, Erdington, Birmingham

Ones to watch... 

Monkey business
Unilever brand PG Tips has launched a special edition Christmas pack, which includes a free cuddly monkey toy in a seasonal festive jumper. The pack is designed to look like a gift and has a 'Sent with love from PG tips' gift tag. rrp: £4.84 tel: 0800 454 611 

Cheese please 
Isigny Ste Mère's festive range includes new additions camembert with French olives and crème fraîche with pink peppercorns. Limited-edition sample packs of three flavoured butters will also debut this Christmas. rrp: from £3.05 tel: 020 7033 0442 

Easy does it 
Bernard Matthews' frozen Turkey Roulade is designed for those after a smaller Christmas dinner. The roulade is made from marinated turkey with sage, roast onion and apple running through the middle. It comes ready to roast. rrp: £4.99 tel: 01603 872 611 

Family fun 
McCain's family focused radio promotion for its frozen potato products spans the Christmas period. The campaign offers families the chance to win prizes including rehearsing with the cast of a Christmas pantomime. The campaign runs for five months. tel: 0800 146 573 

In the mix 
Dr Oetker Christmas baking kits include a Star Cookie Kit with mix and star-shaped cookie cutter, a Cupcake Kit with red and white icing, a Tree Decorations Kit with chocolate drops, and a Gingerbread House Kit perfect for kids. rrp: from £1.99 tel: 01772 643300