How to sell Easter in fine food retail

23 March 2023, 13:15 PM
  • With the Easter holidays fast approaching, we explore three ways to get more customers through the door and generate more sales
How to sell Easter in fine food retail

Easter is just around the corner, and with not long to go it’s important that indies are ready for the holidays. We speak to fine food retailers across the country to find out how to cash in this Spring.

Keep it local
With so many people choosing a family Easter at home this year, it makes sense to showcase local products and a local approach. Buying local is more important than ever for customers this year and it’s something indie food retailers are especially good at. Mark Kacary, managing director at Norfolk Deli, knows the importance of the local angle, particularly in the face of big supermarkets.

“A business like ours is 100% traditional deli. We are within 10 minutes’ walk of a Sainsbury’s and Tesco’s and a short drive from Aldi. Supermarkets have massive marketing departments and gargantuan marketing budgets to create an image of the perfect stay-at-home family meal at budget prices. We cannot compete with that.

“Our angle is to provide products supermarkets simply cannot stock and sell. Our focus is on cheeses made by small artisan producers, on local produce made within a 30-mile radius of our shop which offers the customer something different and which simply cannot be offered in a supermarket. It’s all about local for us.”

It’s something Samanatha Riddington, food hall manager at Flourish, knows works, and a close relationship with local suppliers allows her to shape her Easter preparations and displays accordingly.

“We have some extra fun baked goods coming in from our local bakery, Hobbs House, like chocolate brioche, sourdough and hot cross buns, as well as Easter Pippins doughnuts and themed patisserie cakes.”

For Mark it’s the centre of the business, a wider choice all locally sourced makes his deli stand out. And as customers look for fine foods for a family Easter, the local approach can bring big wins.

“Our cheese boards have a theme and as much as possible everything we do is local. So there will be local cheese boards with local chutneys, local charcuterie and local wines, beers and spirits. What we offer which many cheese shops do not offer is the width and breadth of a fully stocked deli.”

Sustainability sells
Shopping locally goes hand in hand with sustainability, another issue that’s close to shoppers’ hearts more than ever this year. With feast foods like joints of beef and lamb regulars on Easter Sunday dinner tables, the notion of being a sustainable business needs to be apparent and seen more as a reality. Lou Macdonald, owner at New Macdonald’s Farm Shop, knows this is ethically important to her business as well as to her customers.

“We will only stock ethical, high welfare, local, organic, regenerative produce. Lower impact on the environment, local grown. We support local businesses, which supports the local community and economy. Our ethos is to support those businesses that sustain good practices, and not those big cooperations who sustain the unethical practices.”

Samantha Riddington agrees, it’s not only about what customers want, it’s about creating and maintaining an ethical business.

“Sustainability is a huge part of our business and it seems to play a large part in our customers’ buying habits. Many of our products come with the B-Corp logo, and we use point-of-sale signage, e-newsletters and table talkers to tell our customers all about our values. Our partner and main supplier Cotswold Fayre was the first fine food wholesaler to be carbon neutral, and is a proud B Corp too.”

For Edward Berry, owner of the Flying Fork, it’s about making that connection between being an ethical business and the sustainability customers are looking for. Communicating this effectively is important.

“Those that shop in the independent sector are probably already closer to the notion of sustainability, be it food miles, seasonality, packaging or sourcing. This can be communicated subtly, or with well-displayed messages such as distances, sourcing stories etc.”

The Easter message
Getting your message across to customers is always important and significant dates and holidays can give businesses a helping hand with this. The sight of eggs on your counter signals it’s almost Easter and gets customers prepared, and the displays you create at this time of year solidify your wider message.

“Displays are incredibly important to us to create that initial wow factor that makes customers want to return,” Samantha Riddington says. “We use an impactful display right at the front of the food hall as a focal point which shows all new products we have in, with smaller stands around the store to give a good flowing shopping experience.”

For Edward Berry it’s a chance to be creative and to create campaigns around a recognisable holiday.

“Tell a story rather than simply displaying your products, for instance take elements of an Easter egg hunt and create ‘hidden’ items as part of the display. Devote an area of the store for Easter products. If you are using Easter as the reason for a large campaign, gather all the related products into one area of the store so customers don’t have to work too hard to make decisions.

“Choose merchandise which points towards family. Overall, Easter is a family holiday typified by presents, mostly chocolate admittedly, for children, large gatherings over meals and journeys to visit family.”

It’s family that really floats when it comes to Easter, this year especially. Selling Easter in 2023 is more about selling a day of close bonds and togetherness than chocolate eggs, though we can never underplay the importance of chocolate eggs! For indies, the place in between the two is a sweet spot to really excel in.

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