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What to Expect from the Unexpected (festive sales uplift in c-stores)

Not a year passes by without events taking place that affect independent convenience store performance – new product regulations, new sport events, new consumer demands, new weather patterns, new Brexit date … Larger retail operations are better placed to even out the impact of unforeseen events and short-term trends. By contrast, small shops are disproportionately affected by weather, regulation changes and prices/promotions in competing outlets which makes year-on-year comparison less reliable. Yet, in the absence of a crystal ball, we decided to look into last year's festive sales uplift.

Not surprisingly perhaps, despite demand for alcohol on Christmas Day and New Year's Eve increasing by nearly 100% in stores that are open on those days, overall sales uplift in December isn't huge for small shops. More purchases are planned during the festive season as shoppers try to take advantage of seasonal deals and offers wherever they can find them – online, in supermarkets, discounters or food & drinks specialists. Last year, for example, average store turnover increased by 1.4% in December and November, and 3.3% in October compared with the January-September monthly average.

Categories that saw the largest percentage sales uplift in the final quarter of the year were Stationery, Chocolate Confectionery, Spirits, Greeting Cards, Alcoholic RTDs, Ambient Groceries, Lottery, Wine, and Biscuits & Cakes. Soft drink sales, by contrast, were down on average 10% each month of the final quarter. Furthermore, different categories experienced sales boosts in different months of the fourth quarter. For example, Chocolate Confectionery, Ambient Groceries, and Biscuits & Cakes were in higher demand in October last year.

For more information on our data, get in touch with The Retail Data Partnership's research team.
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