Shoppers are ready to buy in for Christmas – what will they be looking for?
CHRISTMAS is a time for lists – gifts, Christmas cards, party invitations, wish lists and one VIP’s important assessment of who’s been naughty or nice.
The big question for retailers is what will be on their customers’ shopping lists as they begin buying goods for December 25.
There are particular products that are in high demand around the festive season, not just on the day itself, but for several weeks before and after.
For some modern families, one of the few times of the year they have a full three-course meal in the home will be at Christmas.
That should means shoppers will be keeping an eye out for starters and appetisers, something retailers can capitalise on by making room on their shelves for something a little bit special.
Prawn cocktail is an established festive starter dish and Aberdeen smokehouse John Ross Jr has launched its own version in time for Christmas, available in a 400g pot from Costco (RRP £8.99).
Scottish fish brand RR Spink & Sons has also launched new products for Christmas – a whisky-infused smoked trout and a warming winter spices smoked trout (both RRP £5.99). The limited-edition products are described as perfect for seasonal starters.
“Trout is a wonderful and tasty alternative to salmon at this time of year and our Loch Etive trout consistently comes out top in taste trials,” said the company’s Barry Murdoch. The traditional roast remains a popular choice for the main course, and while it’s unlikely that shoppers will look to their local c-store for a turkey, many will be looking for trimmings like gravy, stuffing and roast veg.
And by locating such items near the chilled meat area or creating a special second site for them, retailers should be able to encourages sales to shoppers looking for meal solutions.
According to research from Kantar Worldpanel quoted by Premier Foods, there are 2.3m extra gravy shoppers and 3m extra stuffing shoppers in the last four weeks of the year, with the majority of UK shoppers choosing Bisto and Paxo.
And according to IRI figures, in the Christmas period there is a peak of interest in turkey gravy with 58% of all turkey gravy sales occurring during the season.
Premier has also launched Bisto Rich Gravy Pastes (RRP 99p) in time for Christmas. Made from real meat juices, they’re available in Roast Beef and Roast Chicken flavours.
Spar festive fare includes an Unsmoked Gammon Joint (price-marked at £5), Streaky Bacon (£2 PMP) and Ready to Roast Parsnips.
Brussel sprouts may be a traditional vegetable accompaniment on the big day, but Birds Eye is aiming to tempt a few shoppers towards something a bit different with its new Steamfresh range.
“Birds Eye has over 60 years of experience growing and fast freezing vegetables to retain their flavour and freshness. We are delighted to be pushing new boundaries with the launch of Steamfresh and to make vegetable side dishes a really exciting addition to mealtimes,” said Geraldine Phillips, general marketing manager.
Dairy Crest thinks retailers would do well to remember the increase in ‘cheese board’ occasions at Christmas.
“Consumers often look for and enjoy celebratory products at Christmas and cheese sales see a seasonal peak at this time,” said Elaine McCague, marketing manager for Cathedral City.
The company recommends stocking its Cathedral City Vintage 20, which is typically matured for 20 months resulting in what Dairy Crest describes as “a flinty rugged texture and full-flavoured cheese perfect for a cheeseboard”.