What to focus on this Winter.

From spiking Covid rates and the Omicron variant prompting new government guidance, to price increases driving inflation and availability issues leading to the risk of empty shelves, things are likely to be very challenging this winter, according to the Partners for Growth Retailer Advisory Panel.

Winter is a game of two halves in retail, with the Christmas season being all about indulgence, entertaining and premium, whilst in January and February, health and practicality become the focus as shoppers face the reality of their Christmas excess’s. However, because of Covid related Government restrictions, things are likely to be very different this year. As was the case for much of the Pandemic, this is likely to still present strong opportunities for the convenience retailer who is uniquely placed at the heart of their community to capitalise on the shift to shopping local and bring much needed reassurance to the more vulnerable members of their community.

We caught up with the Partners for Growth team to get their thoughts on what actions retailers should be taking now, to help them navigate through these uncertain times.

New Year Habits

Health and wellness even more key this New Year

We know shoppers’ mindsets change rapidly after Christmas into a health and wellness focus and for a number of years we’ve seen increases in sales of green tea, fruit and herbal infusions as well as other healthier options such as vegetables and soups. In recent years, January has become synonymously known as “Veganuary”, for many people adopting a vegan diet at the start of the year. In fact, The Grocer reported 62% of adults in the UK had purchased plant based milk Source , so ensure you have product offerings for shoppers seeking vegan food or looking to scratch cook by keeping vegetable stocks in good supply and thinking about stocking non-dairy and meat-free alternatives too.

Home hygiene a priority

With the shift towards health and wellness, protecting our home hygiene has greatly risen in importance since the pandemic. Trying to protect ourselves and our families from the virus is a shopper priority with nearly three quarters of consumers cleaning more frequently. Focus on the recognisable brands as shoppers seek products they trust and merchandise by room for ease of shop; since the Pandemic began, branded Household Cleaning sales have grown by over 50%. Check out our home cleaning ranging and merchandising advice here. See Home Cleaning Advice

The importance of value

January has always been a time for budgeting and cutting back and inflation rising at levels not seen for a decade, household budgets are definitely being squeezed in the UK currently. So try to give your shoppers assurances that your store offers them great value through price mark packs on recognisable brands, smaller product sizes for reduced available spend and affordable meal fillers. Source  See our article on Delivering Value.

A Good Time to Focus On Your Business

Stay on top of key business fundamentals

With cost increases driving up inflation, it’s more important than ever to run your business efficiently and be on top of your business fundamentals – sales, margin, footfall, and average basket spend – is key. Now is also a good time to review your business plan – if you don’t have one, now is a great time to write one as the process helps focus on your business priorities. You can download a business plan template here

Look after your staff!

Competition for good staff is increasing across the retail environment, so it pays to look after and retain good staff. Members of the Retailer Advisory Panel would urge retailers to introduce initiatives to retain your staff, such as increasing training, improving staff facilities in the store, and offering a good living wage. Now may be a good time to carry out a staff appraisal to let your staff know they are valued. If in the event staff do decide to leave, these initiatives will make it more attractive to new people considering joining your team. Checkout our article on retaining staff and download our Staff Appraisal Form here.

Focus on good availability

Availability continues to be an ongoing issue, which the panel believes is likely to continue well into spring and summer 2022. Gaps on shelves could result in shoppers going elsewhere and risk losing your customer for good. By investing in existing and new supplier relationships it will help you access the stock you need to minimise availability gaps. Panel member Kay Patel extended his supplier relationships to 5 Wholesalers to do just this and manage risk. Read more here.

If you’d like to put a question to one of the Partners for Growth team of experts about what else you can be doing to help your business in these challenging times, why not click on the link below and complete the form?

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