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The Covid-19 pandemic brought an abrupt end to holidays abroad. Although some Brits snuck in getaways in the summer of 2020, the government has since brought in tighter restrictions, making it illegal to travel abroad for holidays.
With no end yet in sight to these rules, many Brits will be playing it safe and planning staycations this summer. In fact, research from holidaycottages.co.uk found that four in five Brits were planning a 2021 staycation, with the top five destinations being Cornwall, the Scottish Highlands, Devon, the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. Edinburgh-based tour operator Rabbie’s reported that bookings have doubled due to the popularity of staycations, and even P&O Cruises is turning its focus to the UK, launching short-break “staycation” sailings this summer.
This comes as good news to fine food independents, who are likely to see another sales boom this summer, with more consumers treating themselves to local food and drink.
“At The Cress Company, we experienced a significant spike in sales when lockdown restrictions were relaxed between June-August in 2020,” said Joe Wall, managing director of the Dunfermline-based fine food distributor. “There was a peak in demand from ‘holiday-orientated’ areas, like the Lake District, Norfolk Coast and Scottish Highlands and Islands. We saw a phenomenal increase in sales from rural businesses – for instance in July, a four-fold increase in rural areas of the Highlands.” The uplift in sales led the company to expand – the business is moving to a new depot double the size of its current location in May, and it aims to create more than 60 jobs over the next three years with business set to continue growing.
The Cress Company is preparing for another surge in sales this summer when Covid-19 restrictions are eased. “We as a business have been quick to respond, ensuring we have the food and drink ranges available to meet with the increase in demand,” said Nikki Castley, head buyer of The Cress Company. “We have seen a requirement for more convenience-led product ranges as shopping patterns shift from supermarkets to the independents, and we are continually sourcing and introducing new ranges that will fit the needs of our customers.”
As for the products that retailers can expect to fly off the shelf this year, The Cress Company pointed to the variety of top-selling products from the summer of 2020. “For those choosing to stay in self-catering accommodation, we saw a huge uplift in products from our premium grocery ranges,” Joe said.
“Typically, in summer we would anticipate sales of soft drinks and snacks for pubs and cafés. However, retailers were buying from categories such as grab and go, biscuits, confectionery, sharing bags of crisps, assuming holiday makers were opting to treat themselves,” he continued.
Joe also said The Cress Company saw an unexpected demand for chilled products, “particularly an uplift in charcuterie, antipasti and British cheeses for those holiday nights-in around a cheeseboard”.
The local shopping trend that kicked off in 2020 introduced many new shoppers to the independents in their communities. With a boom in staycations on the cards for this summer, local retailers are set for another busy season.