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Preparing for Christmas the Right Way.

It's coming up to that time of year were we all start thinking about our Christmas plans, it is an especially critical time of year for for retailers; who have to ensure that all their stock is in their store(s). Not having enough of a particular product could effect sales by forcing customers to a competitor, having too much of a particular product could result in an oversupply resulting in that product either being destroyed (waste of money) or taking up space in your warehouse (added cost for next financial year). A lot of retailers will use data to inform them on what products are likely to sell in the coming Christmas period.

It feels like a lifetime ago were no one foresaw COVID 19 hitting; resulting in the panic buying that ensured no toilet paper or pasta on the supermarket shelves. However you don't need to be a genius to understand that at this time of year supermarkets stock up on turkeys, mince pies and alcohol for December. That being said all products will see an dramatic increase in sales over the November/December Christmas period.

The week leading up to Christmas is by far the biggest sales week of the year for almost all suppliers (unless you are in the Valentines or Easter egg business), but an often overlooked fact is that the week after Christmas normally sees the lowest sales of the year. Fresh suppliers, in particular, need to consider the impact on waste and replenishment orders that comes from people having plenty of food in, living off turkey sandwiches for 7 days, and shops that are barely open. The graph below is a typical annual profile of weekly sales for a supplier that has ‘core grocery’ products (Jan-Dec)

It is important to make a key distinction Christmas products vs seasonal affected products:

  • Christmas-only products are those which are ranged temporarily, and are sometimes even themed (such as dog toys that look like reindeers) - they often come in as a job-lot, depending on shelf-life, and are cleared immediately after Christmas.

  • Seasonally affected lines can have just as big an uplift in sales at this time of year but are ranged all year round (e.g. Stilton cheese). Almost all lines in a store are seasonally affected in some way at Christmas.

For Christmas only products there are limits to what can be done at this time of year. Most product will follow a specific theme, i.e. Christmas themed dog toys. Which after the Christmas period don't have any sale value until Christmas come back around. Most retailers will begin planning for the Christmas season in March or early Spring. During the Christmas sales period most products will see an uplift in sales due to the larger footfall. As a result in its important that planning for all products are taken into account. The main reason for this is because:

  • If suppliers don’t forecast accurately they may not be able to produce enough to replenish orders

  • Depots are incredibly busy through December - it is not always easy to get delivery slots (if you supply washing powder you are going to be de-prioritized vs Christmas crackers and mince pies)

  • Most of the sales uplift occurs in the 7 days leading up to Christmas - by the time products are replenished, it’s over

Added to this we probably all recognize the typical Christmas shopper either being: 4 weeks to Christmas - we load up the cupboards

  • 1 week to go - buy all the fresh stuff, and impulse/distress purchases

  • 1 week after Christmas - we live on turkey sandwiches, and the shops are not open for normal trading hours

  • January - everyone renews their gym memberships, has some vague thoughts about ‘dry-January’, and lives off soup and slim-fast

Mixed into this are freight forwarding companies such as ours. Who's job is to move products to our retail partners in a highly congested environment. During this time of year Brunswick International Freight, are extremely busy ensuring that our clients are able to get their products to their required destination. Ensuring that your company has sound logistics particularly at this time of year is vital in whether or not you have a successful sales season over the Christmas period. By working with Brunswick International Freight Terminal you will ensure maximum success for your business over the Christmas period get in touch today to find out more.

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