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As we move into the build up for Christmas week the key is planning and organisation over the whole business.
Getting all the part time help booked in so there is always the right amount of the right staff available. There is no point in having 5 part time staff in the shop if none of them can wrap gift trays, ensuring a spread of all skills at all times.
Trying to get as much pre-order for cheeses and all the fresh goods to reduce risk as much as possible. Speaking to all suppliers, local and national to see what stocks they have, don’t miss out on early order offers or cut off dates with suppliers.
Get all the kraft trays, gift bags, wrapping for gifts etc in to the building as soon as you can. The last few years have taught us that some items disappear from wholesalers all of a sudden so get what is needed.
Like every retail businesses this is once again a Christmas where it is incredibly hard to second guess customer behaviour, and with rising prices and a very uncertain political situation it is worrying. We buy very little “Christmas” themed items as our focus is on the cheese and local produce. Anything that is Christmas or gift specific, get it out on the shelves as soon as possible. For all ambient goods encourage people to buy or reserve early which ensures the customer gets what they want, and the shop is not full of Father Christmas chocolates on Christmas Eve afternoon.
With various and ongoing issues with all delivery companies currently there is an increased risk in anything that is being sent as a gift. We are ensuring all our corporate and large orders are dispatched by mid-December so should anything go missing there is time to correct or re-send.
If you have the space in the shop always try and be one day ahead, so all gifts and orders for the following day are all complete before going home. That really does take the pressure off for Christmas week, so you should be able to get a couple of hours sleep a night!
For any new businesses my honest advice would be to not over stretch yourselves, and not to over stock – but it is a fine balance. Having a lot more crackers and chutney in store is no bad thing, as that will still sell next year, having too much very ripe brie left is not such a good idea! Also what another local deli told us when we opened, don’t panic when it goes very quiet in mid-December – customers are making fridge and cupboard space before stoking up for the season.
We tend to sell about six times the volume of cheese as a normal week, not counting blue cheese. Stilton we sell about 10 times more than an average week, and we will have all that in the cold store by mid December.
As always, people like to shop for quality food and drink at Christmas. As long as you are offering that with the right team of people to help you, take a deep breath on the 18th, open the door and smile and it will soon be Christmas!
Christmas content supported by Woolcool, the pioneers of sustainable temperature-controlled packaging.