Ho ho ho! Here comes that jolly geezer in red Making the most of the Christmas potential across the categories

The last quarter of the year in Britain is gloomy and rainy, but at the end there’s the Christmas sales peak rushing towards us like a train, lightening the gloom and putting money through tills in retail, convenience, foodservice, the on trade and everywhere else wholesalers reach.

As we report in this feature, suppliers across the categories are keen to work with customers across the sales channels and their wholesalers to make the most of this huge opportunity, when everyone has a few days to let their hair down and relax and take the brakes off spending. Crisps, nuts and snacks is the second most popular category for premium purchases at Christmas, with value sales up +5.6% YOY, second only to chocolate.

So what’s different this time round? The tendency for consumers to trade up into more premium products is prevalent at Christmas, with super premium beers, wines and spirits in the forefront. Large sharing packs and gifting products are also popular across the categories. The healthy living trend is showing up here strongly too, with confectionery, soft drink and beer and wine suppliers all flagging up the healthier options in their festive range.

Finally, CBD is up alongside plant-based in terms of trending NPD. The latest developments in CBD-based soft drinks mean that wholesalers and retailers can offer their customers products that help with natural calmness and tranquility this Christmas. And don’t forget the pets. Who left the dogs out?! With more of us wanting to include our pets in their celebrations, be sure to make room for the festive pet foods in your Christmas offering.

BAKERY

Part-baked breads see a significant annual sales peak during the Christmas season, says Jeremy Gilboy, Founder of the St Pierre Group. Not only do consumers want fresh tasting bread during the festive period, they also want to be prepared for unexpected guests.

Baker Street, synonymous with tasty, convenient bakery products that stay fresher for longer, has a range of four part-baked products. Part Baked Petit Pains & Baguettes and Part Baked Ciabatta Rolls and Loaf, providing the bakery aroma and fresh taste of warm, home-baked bread without the work and simply needing 10 minutes in the oven before serving.

Baker Street has also launched a new 550g Sliced Seeded Loaf, containing sunflower seeds and linseeds. The brand’s classic sliced white and brown loaves will also enjoy a sales boost at Christmas as consumers appreciate their fresher for longer shelf-life, guaranteed for 35 days delivered to depot.

Retailers should also stock up on Baker Street’s Mega Buns, as consumers treat themselves to supersized premium variants of their favourite buns, to enjoy the restaurant experience from the comfort of their home. Baker Street offers Mega Brioche Buns and Mega Sourdough Buns.

Jeremy Gilboy says: “Sales of our Baker Street part-baked products grow exponentially in the lead up to Christmas, so we urge retailers to stock up to maximise on this seasonal sales opportunity. Also, our new seeded loaf will offer retailers the opportunity to take advantage of the growth of the Baker Street brand, which is currently thriving in impulse with double-digit value sales growth.”

BEERS & CIDERS

Re-enforcing the power of premium and super premium products in the beer category, Tim Clay, Managing Director, Asahi UK Ltd says brands typically outperform Own Label over the four weeks running up to Christmas.

The Free From beer sector has more than doubled in two years, Tim continues, reaching its highest ever penetration last Christmas with 3 million new shoppers. Asahi’s Peroni Nastro Azzurro Gluten-Free brand continues to lead the market as the free-from favourite. Last Christmas Beer sales hit the £1 billion mark in the 12-week period, up £57.8m on last year. Premium and Super Premium lager contributed 87% of this growth, a +£50.1 m increase. Peroni Nastro Azzurro is the sixth biggest selling beer brand in value at Christmas.

“Super Premium” covers heritage beers, craft beers from the UK, or genuine imports from abroad. “These are the highest quality group,” says Tim Clay.” Their strength is demonstrated by the fact Asahi’s Peroni Nastro Azzurro continues to be one of the most valuable premium and super-premium beer in the on-trade, driving value growth ahead of the category.”

Last Christmas Premium and Super Premium lager contributed 87% of the overall growth of beer sales, says Tim Clay: “Lager is still the entry point for many consumers into the world of beer, making lager a vital gateway and a critical segment for the beer category’s long-term health of. The craft beer trend has also rejuvenated consumer interest and ignited a new energy towards beer, highlighting not only the importance of authenticity, but also quality.”

Another major part of the portfolio, Asahi’s Meantime brand prides itself on brewing proper beer anyone can enjoy. 2019 saw the launch of Meantime Easytime, a low ABV (4%) lager with a peachy, aromatic twist from its classic Pilsner Malt, Mosaic and Mandarina Bavaria hops, perfect for discovering the world of craft beer.

] As consumers explore the beer category, Asahi UK’s brands, Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Asahi Super Dry, Meantime and Fuller’s London Pride are well positioned to benefit, offering authenticity, quality, and choice. Innovation is also important to the growth of the lager category. In 2016, the Asahi UK portfolio expanded to include Peroni Nastro Azzurro Gluten-Free, which continues to lead the market as the ‘free-from’ favourite with 51% market share of this sub-category. In January, Asahi UK also entered the no- and low-alcohol beer category with Peroni Libera 0.0, giving consumers more freedom of choice.

Christmas is one of the biggest purchasing occasions for beer and cider, says Toby Lancaster, Category and Shopper Marketing Director for Heineken UK, presenting a huge opportunity for wholesalers to drive higher sales:

“Many shoppers will be visiting convenience stores for forgotten items from their shopping list or snacks and drinks for parties.”

Christmas is one of the key category drivers – Sports & Seasons – in HEINEKEN’s The Greenpaper. With over half of beer and cider sold over key seasonal periods, wholesalers should begin their Christmas preparation sooner, ensuring they have a strong range over the festive period.

Tthe alcohol-free category will be a key consideration for consumers, with the continued rise of health-conscious shoppers. This means ample opportunity for wholesalers to harness additional sales from retailers who are keen to cater for consumers looking to “Live Better” without compromising on taste. Wholesalers should therefore dedicate space to no & low alcohol options in depot.

With classic and mainstream beer and cider accounting for 65% of the category, a staple range such as Foster’s, Strongbow Original and Strongbow Dark Fruit is key. But with 39% of shoppers trading up to premium food and drink options, offering Birra Moretti, Desperados and Old Mout is crucial to help retailers offer customers trade-up options. Heineken 0.0 is the fastest growing brand, growing +129% annually.

BISCUITS

In a festive first since the brand launched over 50 years ago, Burton’s Biscuit Company is unveiling new, limited edition designs of its Jammie Dodgers, one of the nation’s most popular children’s biscuit brands. The biscuits’ embossed ‘splat’ makes way for three seasonal designs – a stocking, a star and a Christmas tree – plus a festive-themed pack.

The Jammie Dodgers seasonal special is joined by limited edition festive packs of some of Burton’s much-loved biscuit brands helping shoppers to treat themselves over the festive period.

The £46m RSV Maryland Cookies brand is also having a festive makeover, becoming ‘Merryland’ on packs of Maryland Cookies 230g. They join the ‘Merryland’ Mini Cookies Sharebox – a seasonal transformation of the UK’s No.1 kids mini biscuit brandMaryland Mini Cookies, perfect for adding some chocolate chip fun to sharing at home, gifting or as a stocking filler. Burton’s is also bringing back its festive limited edition design on the Cathedral City Baked Bites Share Box. Cathedral City Baked Bites are made from the nation’s favourite cheese, baked into a great-tasting savoury snack, the perfect accompaniment to a seasonal glass of wine.

“Seasonal biscuits are a major opportunity for retailers, worth £169m last year,” says Isabel Lydall, Category & Insights Controller at Burton’s Biscuit Company. “We’re enabling them to make the most of this opportunity by stocking a Christmas product range that caters for the three seasonal biscuit occasions: in-home treating, novelty and gifting. Merchandising by these key occasions will make life easier for shoppers, enabling retailers to capitalise on increased demand.

CHOCOLATE

Shoppers spent a record-breaking £937M on confectionery last Christmas, says Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondelez International, and this year is once again set to bring wholesalers their biggest ever seasonal sales:

“Chocolate is the most frequently consumed and gifted category at Christmas so it’s essential that both retailers and depots prepare their range early to maximise shoppers’ seasonal spend. The opportunity begins in September and lasts until the end of December, with three quarters of consumers agreeing confectionery is central to their festive traditions.”

The tendency for consumers to trade up into more premium products is prevalent at Christmas. Large sharing packs and gifting products such as tubes, tubs, selection boxes and kids gifting ranges are a key part of every store’s range in December:

“These offer a significant trade-up opportunity as consumers look for special gifts for friends, family, work colleagues and teachers. Self-treat chocolate novelties are also a great way for retailers to drive impulse purchases from shoppers and are great stocking fillers.”

On the product front, Cadbury is launching a raft of new products alongside returning favourites to help depots make the most of the busy December period. Cadbury Dairy Milk Moneyboxes are new for 2019.

There is also a relaunch of the Cadbury Dairy Milk Hollows range to drive the link with the brand’s Secret Santa campaign as well as new and exciting additions to selection boxes, limited edition designs and collaborations on selection tins.

Cadbury Dairy Milk Little Robins come in two variants – Original and Daim – offering an on-the-go bag treat and driving incremental sales for retailers. To support tablet sales over Christmas, the Cadbury brand will also unveil a special-edition Cadbury Dairy Milk Winter Gingerbread edition. The new Cadbury Dairy Milk Orange Snowman offers shoppers the perfect little treat in another popular flavour. Tapping the growing premium adult advent calendar opportunity, the new Green & Black’s Organics Advent Calendar features several of the brand’s iconic flavours in mini dark and milk bars.

Cadbury is also launching its first Cadbury 3D Advent Calendar in 20 years, containing a mix of Cadbury chocolate treats including Cadbury Dairy Milk, Buttons, Freddo, Chomp, Fudge and Curly Wurly and a selection of fun stickers.

Cadbury is reinventing its popular Cadbury Heroes Advent Calendar with 24 days of challenges, adventures and trivia behind each door alongside a Cadbury Heroes chocolate. Consumers can scan the QR code behind the first door to access the challenges, via a web-based app. They can even invite their friends to join to pit each other’s festive knowledge against one another. Cadbury Heroes advent calendar sales grew 12% last year.

Enabling retailers to offer shoppers a trade-up option from Cadbury’s popular tubes and crackers range, the brand is also launching Cadbury Dairy Milk Moneyboxes for 2019. The colourful 100% recyclable tin contains either Cadbury Dairy Milk Freddo Faces or Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons and can be reused as a moneybox.

In 2018, the Cadbury Plush Toys & Stockings range drove incremental sales in family gifting. The brand is building on this success in 2019 with two new additions, through Cadbury’s partnership with the release of The Angry Birds Movie 2. Cadbury Angry Birds Plush Toys is available in two characters alongside a selection of chocolate treats.

Cadbury is out to grow selection box sales with a new on-pack activation. The Cadbury Dairy Milk Medium Selection Box offers a ‘scan and play’ experience on The Angry Birds Movie 2 app with each purchase. Cadbury Bournville is adding its newest variant, Bournville Orange, to the Cadbury Bournville Selection Box to offer dark chocolate lovers a new treat. New for 2019, the Cadbury Darkmilk Selection Box includes four bars from the range’s three flavours: Original, Salted Caramel and Roasted Almond. Cadbury Darkmilk is aimed at consumers who would like a chocolate which is less sweet than milk, but who find dark chocolate too bitter.

Cadbury Heroes is marking two decades with a special-edition Cadbury Heroes 20th Birthday Tin. The purple and gold birthday cake design celebrates the brand’s special anniversary and plays on the most common re-use for the tins, as a cake tin. Cadbury Roses has a new gifting tin as part of the brand’s partnership with watch and jewellery designer Olivia Burton. Cadbury Roses Gifting Cartons is also launching a new format.

Ferrero is investing £6.8m on its confectionery and spreads this Christmas while launching an array of new products across its brands, including novelties, figures and advent calendars. Levi Boorer, Customer Development Director at Ferrero, comments:

“Christmas is a key seasonal trading spike for confectionery, so it’s important that retailers stock the right range to cover every shopper’s needs. Ferrero’s portfolio contains a number of best-selling, quality brands that help drive category growth, offering great tasting products to gift and share during the period.”

Worth £539m at Christmas the boxed chocolates category is one Ferrero is synonymous with through its Rocher, Collection, Raffaello and Thorntons ranges. To coincide with last year’s strong Continental boxed performance, which saw growth of 14.2%, Thorntons is launching a Continental Winter Markets box, presenting rich and evocative flavours from every corner of Europe. Thorntons has also given its Mint Collection a new look and feel, with a modern and premium update to the design to complement the brand’s existing core boxed range. The Snowflake collection also features two new flavours, Salted Caramel and Burnt Sugar.

2018 was another strong year for Ferrero’s other brand Kinder, the number one Kids Confectionery brand since 2012, with its seasonal range growing +£1.8m during the seasonal period.

To help retailers tap into the novelties segment during the festive period, Kinder is launching the Kinder Mix Reindeer Headband. The new 167g product comes with a selection of Kinder Mini Bueno, Kinder Mini Chocolate and Kinder Mini Chocolate with Cereals, as well as the fun Reindeer Headband.

Kinder Surprise is building on the successful performance of its 100g egg last Christmas, after it saw growth of +126%. The sixth biggest SKU in the Novelties segment, the Kinder Surprise 100g now features new Polar Bear toys, including water shooting and colour changing features. Kinder Joy saw +5.2% growth last Christmas and returns this Christmas with new exciting festive designs.

The Advent Calendars sector saw +14.7% growth last Christmas 2018, with Kinder growing ahead of the category. Kinder is also looking to retain its top position in Kids Advent Calendars and outperform 2018’s double-digit growth, by refreshing its 135g Advent Calendar.

As premium products tend to have a greater appeal to shoppers over the Christmas, Thorntons has enhanced its existing Continental Calendar, including 25 days of Thorntons chocolate with a Viennese bar added for the final day. Thorntons is also tapping into the advent calendar market growth with its Cheeky Elf Advent Calendar, in a book format.

The Ferrero brand is also entering the Advent Calendar category, with the new Ferrero Collection Advent Calendar, a premium seasonal offering featuring Ferrero Rocher, Raffaello and Rondnoir products.

Nestlé Confectionery has launched its new Christmas range packed with a host of festive favourites and new launches from its brands. Christmas remains a vitally important season for retailers, says Helen Bailor, Nestle Confectionery Shopper Marketing Manager:

“In 2018, Christmas confectionery grew ahead of the total grocery market, delivering £910 million in sales up 4.4% in value terms on the previous year. The number of households buying in continues to grow.”

Nestlé Confectionery brands drove the highest growth in the market, contributing an additional £16.7 million sales and attracting 1 million more shoppers across the season, resulting in two out of every three Christmas confectionery shoppers purchasing a Nestlé product. Also critical to the success of last year’s Christmas season, and equally important this year, is the opportunity for retailers to capitalise on the early season. 90% of shoppers who buy in the early season will return to purchase again, says Helen Bailor. They are particularly valuable as they spend an average £29.41 compared to the £11.23 of mid/late season shoppers.

Looking at Nestlé’s brands, QUALITY STREET is set for a sensational 2019 as it undergoes its biggest transformation to date. The new look features an array of colours bursting across the packaging, reflecting the vibrant colours of the sweets inside, and resulting in a strong standout on shelf.

A brand-new sweet has been added to the QUALITY STREET assortment, limited-edition Chocolate Caramel Brownie. A huge £3 million media campaign bringing to life the magic of QUALITY STREET will support the brand.

Two out of every three shoppers buy into the Twistwrap category, which is growing in value +2.7%. QUALITY STREET drove two thirds of this growth in 2018. Convenience retailers should focus on the must stock QUALITY STREET 240g carton and the 650g tub.

There is a huge opportunity to drive excitement in the Novelties category, which has been stagnant in recent years due to lack of innovation. In 2018, it was worth £74 million, almost the same as five years earlier.

This year SMARTIES is ready to shake up category sales with its new SMARTIES Penguins. Five new lovable SMARTIES characters: Cool (blue), Cute (pink), Smart (green), Happy (yellow) and Silly (orange) are set to take Christmas by storm. All SMARTIES Penguins feature mini SMARTIES inside.

After dinner mints is another important category at Christmas, worth £48.7 million. 86% of sales are made in the 20 weeks before Christmas, with one in three households buying in. AFTER EIGHT is the UK’s No.1 after dinner mint brand and 2018 sales were up +6.5%. One in three shoppers who purchased AFTER EIGHT in the early Christmas season returned to purchase again in the mid-late season. The AFTER EIGHT Christmas Tin has a stunning new festive redesign, as well as AFTER EIGHT Straws, which bring a younger demographic to the brand.

Giant Tubes are the ultimate traditional stocking filler. Sales are worth £27 million and grew +7% in 2018, with the Nestlé range up +17% and driving the growth. This year the giant tubes range see the addition of two brand new launches: ROWNTREE’S Randoms Giant Tube and ROWNTREE’S Randoms Squish’ems Giant Tube. The brand new Randoms sharing tub contains x3 230g bags of Randoms, Squish’ems and Sours and is ideal for Christmas.

PET FOOD

Who left the dogs out? Pet owners are now more determined than ever to share life experiences and celebrations with their furry friends and Christmas is no exception, says Camille Ashforth, senior brand manager at Webbox:

“This is a hugely profitable time of year for retailers and with the new Webbox Festive range, we’re helping them to drive additional profits from the petcare category with a host of exciting new lines that are sure to get tails wagging.”

] Webbox is launching its biggest ever festive collection for Christmas 2019. The limited-edition line-up, available from mid-October, comprises 35 SKUs, including dog and cat treats, meals and seasonal toys, including new products for 2019.

] New additions for dogs include a Webbox Festive Squeaky Sprout Ball Toy, Webbox Festive Chipolatas, Webbox Festive Meaty Treats and a Webbox Festive Favourites Dog Tin, complete with five items including Tasty Sticks with Turkey and Cranberry.

] Cat lovers will be able to pick up products including a Webbox Festive Cat Toy Stocking, with six assorted cat toys and a personalised gift tag, Webbox Festive Favourites Cat Tin (and Webbox Festive Cat Mousse.

SOFT DRINKS

Christmas is a magical time of year for families and friends to get together and celebrate with delicious food and drink at home, says Amy Burgess, Senior Trade Communications Manager at Coca-Cola European Partners (CCEP). With an estimated 6.1million people choosing not to consume alcohol, it’s vital for wholesalers to stock up with a range of soft drinks options, in particular Coca-Cola, which has become synonymous with Christmas.

“consumers also look for ‘special’ drinks that capture the excitement of the holiday, like cocktails and non-alcoholic mocktails. Mixers are growing in popularity as more people look to recreate their favourite mixed drinks at home. Outlets should consider the importance of mixers alongside alcohol ranges, to help retailers cater for customers stocking up for their festive celebrations.”

Consumers are also dreaming of a light Christmas, says Amy:

“Consumers’ greater awareness of health and wellness is impacting the way they shop. As more people look to make positive changes in their lifestyles to be healthier, they are on the lookout for more low-sugar options in their food and drink, so wholesalers should offer a wide range of low-sugar soft drinks over the festive period.

“We have seen an increasing demand for low and no sugar products. Diet Coke remains the most popular light cola brand, with a value of over £472m, while Coca-Cola zero sugar is growing significantly, up 53.3% in value. Our flavoured carbonates, which include zero sugar, are growing 17% in value, highlighting the popularity of brands like Fanta Zero.

Consumers are becoming more adventurous than ever and looking to experiment with new and exciting variants, Amy continues, “so it is increasingly important to keep an eye out for the latest flavour innovations across a range of different soft drinks formats over the Christmas period. Our Light Cola flavours have also proven extremely popular, and earlier this year we expanded our range further with the launch of two new flavours – Coca-Cola zero sugar Raspberry and Diet Coke Twisted Strawberry.”

“To tap into cocktail culture and the growing popularity of premium mixers in licensed we also launched Coca-Cola Signature Mixers, a range of four specially-crafted drinks that builds on the brand’s longstanding reputation as the original, authentic mixer enjoyed across the world. The range launched in July through licensed wholesalers for pubs, bars and restaurants.”

As the CBD trend shows no signs of slowing, Bravura Foods have become the latest company to join the growing market. The vegan specialist has launched a CBD infused, lightly sparkling range of drinks under a new brand, ‘The Leaf Life,’ make its retail debut at the end of September. Leaf Life is a CBD soft drink range that provides a great adult soft drink alternative at Christmas dos.

‘The Leaf Life’ is the tenth brand to join Bravura’s impressive portfolio of vegan and vegetarian products, and it is the third of Bravura’s own brands, alongside Free From Fellows and Peanut Hottie. Available in slim-line 250ml recyclable cans, the drinks retail from £1.99 in three flavours, Laidback Lemonade, Relaxing Raspberry and Mindful Mango and Passionfruit.

The natural drinks contain 15mg of full spectrum, fully certified CBD and are free from all artificial flavours and colours. The range is also certified by both the Vegan and Vegetarian Societies.

Market research commissioned by the CMC estimates that the CBD market is currently one of the fastest growing wellbeing product categories in the UK. At the current rate it will be worth almost £1B per annum by 2025.

Lisa Gawthorne, Co-Founder and Director at Bravura Foods, commented: “We’re so excited about this launch, not just because it’s one of our own brands, but because it really tastes amazing, with only 19-25 calories per can. It’s also the lowest sugar CBD drink on the market, made without any artificial sweeteners.

Soft drinks are increasingly important to retailers and wholesalers in the run up to and during Christmas, says Adrian Troy, Marketing Director at Barr Soft Drinks, showing continuous year on year growth for the last three years and adding £150 million to the category:

“Soft drinks generate double the value of spirits and seven times that of Christmas cakes over the festive period, further highlighting the importance retailers should place on the category. Shoppers are willing to spend more over the festive period as a treat, with over a third preferring to shop brands and premium adult drinks, so there is a clear opportunity to increase sales by widening the choice available to shoppers. “It’s crucial to get your range right and stock up on bestselling brands that shoppers will be looking for, in both multipack and larger pack formats, to cater to those preparing for family get-togethers and parties.”

Barr Soft Drinks offers a wide-ranging portfolio of different flavours and pack formats, including IRN-BRU, the UK’s No.1 Flavoured Carbonate brand, available in Regular and XTRA variants. In 2018, 1.6 million litres of IRN-BRU sold in the week before Christmas. The Barr Family range, the UK’s biggest range of flavours, including Barr Cola, Lemonade, Cherryade, Bubblegum and Cream Soda, grew +26.4% in the last quarter of 2018 and remains a festive favourite.

Bundaberg, a unique range of craft-brewed, premium non-alcoholic beverages from Australian Bundaberg Brewed Drinks is perfect for shoppers who aren’t drinking alcohol but want the same premium feel from their soft drinks. Barr Soft Drinks advise retailers and wholesalers to stock a good range of mainstream and premium soft drinks in both still and sparkling varieties.

Drinks at Christmas time don’t just mean alcoholic beverages, confirms Simon Gray, Founder and MD of Boost Drinks:

“With around 20 per cent of the population not drinking at all – and the figure continuing to rise among younger consumers – it’s important that customers consider the huge opportunity in the soft drinks category this December, when it comes to stocking alternatives to alcohol.

“It is wise too for retailers to offer a variety of soft drinks like the Boost Energy range which delivers exciting flavours and is full of taste but also provides that all-important energy-kick which consumers can find themselves in need of over the season.”

There’s a growing demand for sugar-free variants. With consumers shifting to low sugar alternatives, an additional 11m litres of lower sugar soft drinks are being consumed every week, says Simon:

“Our sugar-free variants are particularly popular with the younger generation because of the increasing focus around health and healthy eating. We know among 18-30-year olds, low sugar content is the most important factor when choosing a soft drink, with 86% of young people believing sugar is bad for their health. This emphasises the importance of retailers catering for a more health-conscious generation. This year, our promotions around Christmas time always include our sugar-free products, to ensure the demand for these variants can be met while ensuring a good return for the retailer.”

The other point, says Simon Gray, is that Christmas is no longer limited to just one day: the celebrations tend to span a whole month. Additionally, Christmas is a time when consumers are more time-poor than ever. They are bound to be nipping out to their local retailers to pick up products to replenish the food and drink at home, as opposed to making trips to the larger multiples.

Finally, independent retailers and the wholesalers supplying them can capitalise on better margins through Boost’s PET promotions. Retailers can buy 12 bottles for the price of 10 on 500ml Boost Energy Original price-marked SKUs, one of the bestselling products in the Boost Energy range. Boost’s £1 1- litre PET packs are also available in-depot.

SNACKS

Daytime snacking becomes more important over Christmas, says Matt Collins, Trading Director at KP Snacks, as family and friends gather for lunches or afternoon drinks and want nibbles at these occasions, Shoppers bought 5.7 billion units of snacks (+1.6%) and spent £9.7 billion (+2%) on FMCG during Christmas 2018:

“This growth was driven by more frequent trips as well as an increase in basket spend. As a result, we saw 9.4% of total sharing crisps and snacks occasions occur in the four weeks leading up to Christmas, making it the biggest month of the year.”

Of the categories in snacks, Nuts see growth at Christmas with sales of Tasty Nuts +5.8% in volume and +3.6% in frequency compared to other times. Popcorn also grew in the 4 weeks prior to Christmas. Free from has more than doubled in 2 years, reaching its highest ever penetration (25.6%) with 3m new shoppers over Christmas 2018.

“There was a +133% value growth in consumers purchasing free-from starters and nibbles including crisps last year. However, people still want to indulge, with products to treat themselves and their family and 61% do this through snacking.

Key products to capitalise on the above-mentioned trends include Tyrrells, which give consumers that premium crisp that’s so in demand at Christmas, McCoy’s Muchos which are perfect for dipping, KP Nuts and popchips for the healthy snackers, and Hula Hoops and POM-BEAR for younger generations.

SPIRITS

Pernod Ricard UK is urging convenience retailers to give stronger visibility to premium wine and spirit brands this Christmas, says Chris Shead, Off-Trade Channel Director for Pernod Ricard UK, to win share from grocery and capitalise on the £15.5m opportunity.

Within Premium Spirits, there are five key categories Pernod Ricard UK recommends retailers focus on getting right: Gin, Irish Whiskey, Blended Scotch, Vodka and Wine. These categories lend themselves to two key consumer drinking occasions at Christmas: giving the perfect gift and being the best hosts at home.

Pernod Ricard UK is increasing its above the line advertising spend by 38%, with campaigns from October for Jameson, Plymouth, Chivas and Campo Viejo, an overall investment in the Christmas occasion of more than £5m.

Consumer behaviour at Christmas is changing, with more households, each buying more products, visiting convenience stores. During these shopping trips, people are buying less products but spending more and the leading premiumising product is Spirits

Chris Shead comments: “It was a good Christmas for the convenience channel last year, however, it continued to fall behind grocery as retailers failed to maximise the Premium Spirits opportunity. The data all points towards a third Gin-dominated Christmas this year, however, we also anticipate this year to be driven by gifting outside of traditional categories, such as Gin and our new Plymouth Gift Box, as well as lead-ingredients for popular cocktails and mixed drinks. That’s why we are investing significantly this year to encourage more moments of conviviality, to get consumers spending more time with family and friends, as well as more money in the convenience channel on premium wines and spirits.”

WINES

Alcohol-free wine is worth just under £40 million, says Andrew Turner, Director of Wine for Halewood Wines & Spirits, with Halewood’s Eisberg leading the way with a 60 per cent market share:

“What was previously perceived as exclusively for designated drivers, has evolved into a common lifestyle choice, resulting in a sharp rise in consumers in the market for easily-accessible alternatives that don’t compromise on quality or taste.

“Drinking rates are their lowest in 18 years. According to the ONS, around one in five adults is now teetotal – about eight per cent more than 10 years ago and this trend isn’t set to die out any time soon.” “Eisberg’s wines are made in the same way as high quality wines, with the alcohol removed at the end of the process, maintain those much-loved vibrant, fruity flavours. They are also low in calories, with less than 33 calories per glass.”

Halewood Wines & Spirits also sell conventional wine, with alcohol in it. In the winter, especially around Christmas, warming reds are in demand, says Andrew Turner:

“World-class Rioja brand Marques de Caceres is a bodega that constantly marries innovation with tradition to appeal to the modern wine drinker. The 2014 Crianza is an intense red wine from the heart of Rioja, perfect for chilly winter nights and a thoughtful gift for wine lovers. For more celebratory occasions, the Gran Reserva is the perfect fit, with limited production and 24-26 months ageing in the barrel followed by four years minimum in the bottle.

Sparkling wines are perfect for celebrations of all kinds, says Andrew. “Prosecco is still the go-to celebratory drink, such as the Colle Baio Organic Prosecco by Il Colle, their first organic Prosecco Superiore DOCG. The volume of Italian wine in the market continues to grow, with six out of every 10 bottles of sparkling wine drunk here being from Italy. However, English sparkling wine has more than doubled in the last year, from 6.8 million bottles in 2017 to 15.6 million in 2018. Around 1.5 million new vines are planted every year and Smith and Evans, from Somerset, make stunning traditional method sparkling wines to rival the best in the country”.

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, full of giving, goodwill and family celebrations. But for retailers, says Continental Wine and Food Ltd’s Marketing Executive Jessica Smith, it can be a brutal slog against the multiples, dominated by unruly hours and rife competition. By making some simple tweaks to your stocked ranges and focussing on up and coming trends, Christmas can be a season enjoyed by all in retail.

“For years veganism has been a minority within a minority but as people become more ecologically minded about where their food and drinks are sourced from, producers all over the world have seen an increased demand for vegan-friendly products in their ranges, and it is crucial that retailers follow this trend by stocking these products within their stores to appeal to the wider shopping audience.

“CWF produces the UK’s number 1 British Wine brand, ‘The Straw Hat’ which boasts the Vegan seal of approval and has seen sales increase year on year as customers love the taste, quality and value of this must-have beverage. The core range features a fresh and fruity white, a lush rosé and a juicy red. The range has recently been amended to include two new carefully-crafted botanical variants: the white is infused with cool cucumber, zesty lime and ginger, and the rosé features natural flavours of juicy strawberry, sweet orange blossom and rhubarb.

Mulled Wine is a firm favourite among consumers and there are several ways to keep your sales consistent over the festive period, says Jessica Smith:

“We recommend making the most of the interest in Mulled wine all the way to Christmas; recent research shows shoppers were frustrated with the lack of seasonal product availability,” “so start introducing stock around mid-October, all the way through to the beginning of January and ensure that mulled wine is clearly displayed using POS or at the front of your merchandising. You should also take care when selecting your Mulled wine range – we recommend choices from entry-level through to premium. Harvest Fruits Mulled Wine and Winter Warmer are 2 of our bestselling Mulled wines. Both can be enjoyed either warm or cold and are blended with the finest ingredients to give a character of subtle cinnamon, clove spices and zesty citrus fruits. Harvest Fruits is 8% ABV and Winter Warmer is 10% ABV.” ‘