Seasonal promotions made easy

by 11 December 2019

As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, and the ‘C’ word fast approaches; customer shopping habits at convenience stores and forecourts begin to shift. Forward-thinking store owners will be well underway with seasonal promotions that make the most of changing customer demand, stocking festive treats and add-ons to help them maximise their sales and profits.

Baby, it’s cold outside…

Check the forecast before planning your stock orders so that you can be ready for whatever the winter weather throws at us. If it’s looking like rain, then stock up on umbrellas. If there’s a cold snap coming, then ice scrapers and de-icer will be much in demand.

There’s no better way for customers to warm up than with a hot cup of joe. The ACS Local Shops Report for 2019 revealed that 48% of convenience stores now offer either a customer-operated coffee machine, or serve-over beverages. Shoppers are becoming increasingly eco-conscious, so many stores also offer discounts to customers who bring their own reusable coffee cups. It’s always a great idea to display some purchasable reusable cups nearby your coffee machine for those who have forgotten their own. These also make great gifts for customers doing a spot of last-minute Christmas shopping whilst flitting between festive social engagements!

I’ll be home for Christmas

Studies have shown that the shorter days and darker nights mean that customers tend to do their shopping closer to home, and in smaller frequent bursts, rather than heading further afield to do a bigger shop. This is great news for convenience stores and forecourts, who benefit greatly from this shift in habits. Customers want to huddle away from the cold and swap their Big Nights Out for cosy Big Nights In! It’s up to you to provide the right snacks to get them through the winter! Soups, hot food-to-go, sharing bags of crisps and sweet treats will all be popular items.

Items that are available for a limited time only will make customers want to try them before they’re gone. FOMO (the fear of missing out) is a strong buying drive and encourages impulse purchases, so introduce some products with novelty festive flavours. Whether that’s a turkey-dinner sandwich, a festive flavoured gin, or mince pie flavoured chocolate – think creatively. With an eye-catching digital display, you can draw customers’ attention to seasonal products and keep your promotions fresh by updating your offers as often as you like.

All I want for Christmas is…

Alongside the more festive favourites, convenience stores need to make sure they’re stocked up with the essentials. In the hazy week between Christmas and New Year, more people search on Google for convenience stores than at any other time of the year. Bigger stores opening hours can be more erratic than normal, and customers want to stay closer to home. Prepare for this by making sure that your seasonal opening hours are clearly available online.

Make sure you’re ready with all the basics; bread, milk, cheese, breakfast items and mince pies. And yes, they may be festive, but at this time of year we definitely think mince pies fall into the essentials bracket… Weary chefs who have had to cater for a never-ending stream of hungry visitors will be fed up of cooking by the 27th, so make sure your store is there to cater for their ‘night off’ with some indulgent ready meals.

Driving home for Christmas

As the whole nation jumps in the car to criss-cross the country visiting family and friends, it really is the forecourt’s time to shine. Attract customers to your forecourt over others by offering a ‘happy hour’ promotion on fuel. These can be advertised in advance on social media or by using external signage that attracts the attention of passers-by. Consider carefully when this is offered too, in order to coincide with your busiest times or ahead of any poor weather changes on the horizon. If customers know there’s going to be a good deal, they’re more likely to make a specific journey to your store at that time, driving up footfall. Increased footfall can mean longer queues, so make sure your POS system is reliable enough to help your process transactions quickly and efficiently.

Don’t forget that people will always need a last-minute gift (or two!) and this is the perfect opportunity to increase add-on sales. Your customers won’t want to be wrapping up an ice-scraper for their granny, so make sure you’ve got plenty of chocolate giftsets, wine and tins of biscuits. Help them look like they’ve put some real thought into their gifts by also selling bottle bags, cards, wrapping paper and sticky tape too.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

All year round, convenience stores and forecourts play the ‘right-hand man’ to busy people. In the month of December, the whole nation inevitably tries to pack more into one month than they do at any other time of the year. There are Christmas parties, family gatherings, Christmas shopping and decorations to get up, which doesn’t leave much time behind for getting the shopping done.

If customers can visit your store to quickly grab everything they need, then forecourts and convenience stores can be the superstars of the festive season. If you can save a customer’s bacon (perhaps by stocking it) over Christmas, you’ll reaffirm their loyalty to your store year-round.

If you’re looking for further information on how you can make the most of your seasonal promotions, then get in touch with a member of our team.

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