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Once the rush of Christmas is over and you’ve enjoyed a few well-earned days of rest and relaxation it’s back to work for cheesemongers and delis. But how can indies refresh their stores in the new year to make an impact, and what’s the best way to manage excess Christmas stock?
Dealing with leftover cheese
Ordering in Christmas cheese is always a delicate balance of having enough stock but not too much. But if you still have festive flavours left over, don’t panic, there are still ways to sell them!
For Simon Jones, co-owner of Forest Deli in Coleford, “We don’t have too much specific Christmas-themed stock in the shop so we hope to always sell out – nothing looks sadder than Santa Claus chocolates in February!
“But during the ‘in-between’ days people are still buying gifts and cheese for family visits and New Years’ Eve dinner parties so it is still busy for hampers and wine and cheese if there is anything leftover.”
Stephen Fleming, owner of George and Joseph in Leeds, agrees, “In the new year – certainly in the first couple of weeks – sales are slow as customers are finishing off their Christmas leftovers and also on a health kick! That said, quite a few people have late celebrations in January so we still find demand for festive cheese selections.”
Stephen also finds ways to repurpose any lingering festive cheeses. “Usually if we have any leftover cheeses, they tend to be hard cheeses (which is good news as they keep for longer). We rotate these into our monthly subscription boxes and also showcase them in our tasting events, as well as sampling them out in the shop to increase sales”, he adds.
Simon has recently started offering hot food at his deli, an easy way to incorporate cheeses that haven’t sold whilst also avoiding food waste. He explains, “Through the winter we have hot food takeaways, mac ‘n’ cheese being a favourite along with soups and jacket potatoes, which keep people coming in.”
The new year is a golden opportunity for a revamp, and as the Christmas paraphernalia comes down, new décor can go up.
According to Simon, “The first task is to do some touch-ups on the paint to make sure all looks good and then replenish the shelves. This entails removing extra shelves we add into the shop just for Christmas and then filling our original ones back up with customer favourites and essentials.”
“It’s also a good time to move stock and displays around in the shop so any items that are shorter dated go to the eye-catching areas and any new lines are in logical sections and highlighted as ‘new’ to ensure the shop looks fresh and enticing.”
Stephen adds, “After the festive period it’s a good opportunity to review how our products performed over the past 12 months, and take the opportunity to introduce some new lines and rotate out some lines which are no longer performing as well.”
Selling cheese in the new year
After the rush of Christmas, consumers are ready to reset and their demand changes from indulgence to health.
As Simon explains, “New Years’ Resolutions after a week or so of indulgence often revolve around diets and health so that needs to be taken into account.
“From apple cider vinegar with the mother, kombucha and sauerkraut to kimchi, all the products that have a good history of helping people to have a healthy gut are excellent ranges to have. Ours are all locally produced, and they are items that people will continue to purchase on an ongoing basis.
“But snacks and nuts on the healthier end of the market are always welcome because we all still need a treat!”
Another thing to consider in the new year is that there is always an upcoming foodie holiday, and after Christmas, shoppers will be looking for their Burns Night and Valentine’s cheeses, and then before we know it Easter will be upon us.
As Stephen explains, “In January we have Burns Night, so we bring in a selection of Scottish cheeses for customers to enjoy after their haggis!”
Simon agrees, “It’s also never too early to start planning for Valentine’s Day and Easter as the resolutions fall away as spring approaches.”
Here’s to another year of championing artisan quality and selling speciality cheeses!