How to plan Christmas merchandising in retail

24 July 2023, 08:00 AM
  • Now’s the time to consider your festive displays and packaging. Speciality Food speaks to the experts to help you get started
How to plan Christmas merchandising in retail

To anyone outside of retail, the thought of rummaging through the stockroom for Christmas display materials, or hunting down gift boxes and hampers, will seem ludicrous.

But, as you’ll know, it’s crucial to get on top of all of those little details now, to avoid an overwhelming state of panic when November (and the start of festive shopping) comes around.

6 ways to make your Christmas food and drink displays stand out

1. Go big or go home: Abundance is key to selling the Christmas dream, says merchandising expert Anna Crickmore. “Your display should be fun, and engaging. It should make customers want to look all around themselves. And, importantly, it should be a treat and a delight. Go big. And then go bigger. Christmas is an event, and it should feel special.”

2. Colour is king: Green has never wavered from Christmas displays and should be incorporated in 2023, says Anna, who recommends shifting away from red, and into the pink range. “But not neon. Try more muted, Pantone shades.” If you really want to push the boat out though, Anna is all for using ‘shoutier’ colours – especially if your brand is more ‘pop and contemporary’ than traditional. “I adore using Indian garlands, using their strands to drip colour everywhere. They look quite beautiful. Especially if you can find the ones with bells on.”

3. Follow the pattern: “You’ve got to have a check,” adds Anna. “I love a big gingham bow. Equally though, stripes are wonderful. Patterns will help bring depth to your displays.”

4. Go natural: You don’t need to spend a fortune to bring the beauty of Christmas into your shop. Anna says a simple, effective display can be made with a bit of foraging. “Send a member of staff out to collect twigs, branches and holly (legally of course). Twigs look gorgeous hung with bunting. If you do have a budget though, I highly recommend making friends with a local florist to add some natural, fresh flowers to your foraged goodies, or to add in a swooping garland. Or, how about having your logo printed onto gingerbread houses, hanging internally from branches?” Handmade, natural paperchains are also big for 2023.

5. Embrace local artists: Handpainted windows are an investment Anna thinks is worth making. “They represent the artisan nature of a speciality food shop.”

6. Get it right inside: Building your internal displays is just as important as using windows to lure in would-be shoppers. Anna says large wicker baskets and hampers for showing off your wares, always prove a hit, and advises combining any lifestyle products such as cheeseboards and cake stands into the mix so you can upsell. “It’s time to get your statement pieces out. And height is so important in merchandising,” she says. “As is using your displays to tell a story. You want to build height up, and layer, introducing hard and soft fabrics and objects, making sure you make the floor around the display pretty too.”

Food gift wrapping trends for 2023

Christmas can bring in revenue for retailers like no other time of year. Whether you are a small delicatessen or a larger food company, those who are on top of the gifting trends, and know what their customers want, will be bringing in business left right and centre, says Andrew Wilson, director of WBC.

“Not staying abreast of trends could mean losing out on a large cash injection,” he adds.

Go green

The sustainable packaging market is growing fast to meet demands from eco-conscious shoppers. A study by Zion reported the market is set to reach the equivalent of £308 billion by 2028.

“Creating a sustainable range amongst a lot of non-recyclable, highly polluting wrapping will immediately give you a much-needed USP,” says Andrew.

“For example, offering a pre-made hamper, entirely recyclable from the card hamper to the shredded paper, right through to gift tags, is a brilliant way to make eco-friendly shopping easy.” Making your gift-wrapping options in store ‘green’ is a step in the right direction too – from card gift tags, to paper tape. “Retailers can inspire and educate customers about the importance of responsible consumption.”

Make it personal

A recent study by the University of Pennsylvania revealed that experiential gifting is most popular these days for creating stronger emotional ties between gifter and giftee. Whilst this leaves retailers stuck for how to compete, personalised hampers have become a popular choice, with the chance to offer a more meaningful option. Create pre-made gift boxes or offer customers the option to build their own hamper to make sure you’ve covered off the thoughtful gift trend. 

Budget considerations

Customers are far more considerate around spending, and so retailers should always be offering different price points and value options to accommodate all budgets. Make sure to have different size hampers on offer, with gift boxes filled with your most premium items right through to your most affordable. Creating gifting options for all budgets means no matter who walks through your door or clicks on your online store, there is something for everyone.

Hampers are back

During the pandemic, businesses faced significant challenges acquiring and maintaining stock, due to a lack of factory workers, shipping issues and various other factors. For retailers, the stock issues meant a lack of intricate design items such as wicker hampers or wooden hampers. Good news is production is back in full swing and wicker hampers are making a comeback. However, they are not the most affordable choice, so be sure to cover the trend whilst also ensuring you have a variety of value options available.

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