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Events like a coronation are always a chance for independent retailers to focus on high-quality British products and cash in on increased interest in local fare. Indeed, according to Mintel, just under half (45%) of consumers say the coronation of King Charles III makes them feel more patriotic or proud to be British.
One retailer who is certainly experiencing a real boost to British patriotism is Mark Kacary, managing director at Norfolk Deli. Based just eight miles from Sandringham, the home of King Charles III and the Queen Consort’s private country retreat, Mark tells Speciality Food it’s not unknown for a member of the royal family to be spotted in town or even in his shop.
“This event offers a whole variety of opportunities for the independent sector. It has been clear for many years how HRH King Charles III has been a leading advocate for locally-made food and a greener society. An independent food and drink retailer has the golden opportunity to take a lead over and above the corporates. Businesses like ours usually have a direct link to the producer (unlike a supermarket) so it’s the perfect time to highlight this.”
This is also felt by Simon Jones, co-owner of Forest Deli. “All the local shops work together as much as we can to cross promote what we can to encourage people to try more non-processed food, and it is quite common that when they try it they notice the difference. Local cheeses, and local bacon, are the products that especially tourists really comment on.
“We very often get tourists who buy products from us and come back to the shop before they leave to buy more, and some place regular orders for delivery to them as they can’t get the quality where they live.
Cashing in on the younger generation
The regal affair is set to give a much-welcomed boost to Britain, and over a third (35%) of ‘younger millennials’ (aged 27-33) claim the coronation has made them want to buy more ‘made in Britain’ products, compared to an average of 29% of Brits, according to Mintel.
Indeed, as Francesca Smith, senior consumer and lifestyles analyst at Mintel, explained, “Despite the perception that views towards the monarchy are shifting, the research shows that younger Brits are excited to celebrate the occasion, whether attending a street party, purchasing memorabilia or commemorating with limited edition treats.”
Appetite for limited edition coronation food peaks among the young as a third (34%) of 16-34-year-olds say they are likely to buy treats such as Union Jack cakes and specially packaged food or drink, compared to only 14% of over-55s.
This is something Simon has certainly been getting involved in, as he told Speciality Food, “We are well known locally for our freshly made quiches, so the choice of Coronation Quiche was great news for us and before we even posted anything on social media, we had customers asking when they could order them.”
With younger people increasingly interested in buying British for the coronation and beyond, independents have a key opportunity to cash in on this patriotism. As Andrew Goodacre, CEO of British Independent Retail Association (BIRA), explained, “Provenance is a strong marketing message – it implies supporting local suppliers, small business and being greener. All of these are important to the younger consumer.”
Indeed, nicknamed the ‘Green King’, Charles III is a committed environmentalist who has long campaigned for sustainability and better conservation, and this has appealed to younger shoppers.
But as Simon warned, “Getting positive messaging to the younger generations is always a bit harder as their food budget is generally lower, and for working people finding the time to visit multiple independent retailers is just not possible, so it is essential to have something eye-catching to get their attention.”
Mark suggested independents “promote what you’re doing on platforms the younger generation might feel most comfortable with. That might mean learning how to use social media or learning the difference between TikTok and Twitter.”
Boost to the high street
British events that everyone can get involved in are usually good for local high streets, especially is the weather is good. Indeed, MRI Springboard is predicting a rise in footfall over the long weekend.
As Diane Wehrle, insights director at MRI Springboard, explained, “The coronation weekend will be a once-in-a-lifetime event for UK consumers, offering a spectacle never seen before by most of the population. It is taking place the week following the early May bank holiday when MRI Springboard expects footfall to rise by around +12% as consumers enjoy the warmer weather and the longer daylight hours.
“A rise in footfall in high streets is forecast as screens in town centres will be showing the coronation concert making them attractive destinations for friends and families to gather for meals and drinks.”
This is exactly the plan for the town of Hunstanton, where Mark’s shop is located, “The Borough Council has arranged for a big screen overlooking the seafront and there are multiple events taking place over the weekend. This should bring us more people into town and give us a small (but needed) boost in footfall.”
Simon is also looking forward to a busy weekend, as in the Forest of Dean, “There are events in town over the whole weekend, so while the actual day itself will probably be fairly quiet the events pull a lot of potential customers into town, so even if they’re not shopping on the day, they will see what all the local specialist shops offer and come back the following week.”
Tina McKenzie, policy chair at the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), added, “The King’s Coronation arrives at a crucial juncture for small firms which have faced tough challenges over the past year. Times of celebration like this tend to drive a surge in consumer spending and offer a golden opportunity for not only high street but small businesses across the board.
“Embracing this opportunity can help small firms tap into a thriving market and drive growth and success.”