Independent retailers report buoyant Christmas trading
Independent retailers across the UK saw lifted sales this festive season, with the tradition of a whole bird having seemingly taken centre stage on Christmas tables.
“Our butchers found that people returned to the tradition of a whole bird which could be perceived to be a more luxurious product than a turkey crown,” commented Claire Holland, Q Guild general manager.
“This helped push sales across the period, with Q Guild member George Payne Butchers enjoying a 5% increase on sales compared to last year.”
Elsewhere, Q Guild members reported further areas where luxury “continued to be the trend”, with an increase in sales for top end beef cuts, whilst pork joints decreased slightly.
“Lamb sales remain largely static in independent retailers as customers opt for discounted New Zealand lamb in the large supermarkets,” Holland added.
For one independent retailer Walter Rose & Son, it was the business’s 170th Christmas season. The butcher reported “very good” festive trade, both in retail and catering.
Managing director, Steve Cook, said: “Turnover increased between 5-10% on previous years. Turkey still outperforms other species by a margin.
“Geese numbers continue to climb year on year, despite exorbitant price and pre-ordered meats were up slightly.”
Walter Rose & Son also saw a rise in the volume of stuffing and forcemeat it sold, with pigs in blanket sales reportedly going “through the roof”.
Director Jack Cook added: “Customers want top quality short cuts and convenience, so now we make everything from the pigs in the blankets through to stuffing.
“Our plum and ginger, chestnut and celery and cranberry and orange proved a real hit, all priced at just £11.20 per kg. We make six varieties of homemade stuffing, all available for pre-order.”
Looking at other areas of trade, Walter Rose & Son also reported a “considerable amount of new trade customers” such as pubs and restaurants after Christmas.
Another retailer to discuss its festive trading is Crawshaw Group, which enjoyed a “solid core Christmas trading performance” against what it described as a “very tough high street environment”, having sold record numbers of meat hampers.
According to its latest trading update, total group sales for the 15-week period increased by 0.6% compared to the year before, with group gross margin also increasing by 0.6%.
In the week leading up to Christmas, group sales reached a record £1.8 million with almost 3,500 meat hampers sold.
Noel Collett, CEO, commented: “Our biggest ever Christmas week and the record number of meat hampers sold clearly demonstrates the trust our customers place in us for their most important meat spend of the year.
“This gives us a solid platform to improve trading momentum going into 2018.”
Sales were also positive for butchers in Scotland. Douglas Scott, chief executive of the Scottish Federation of Meat Traders said: “There was a swing towards the boneless turkey breasts but there were still good sales for crowns and whole turkeys.
“Rib roast of beef, especially bone in was a big seller well up on last year in most cases. Gammons were a reasonable trade but pork sales were slow and lamb sales extremely slow.
“Those who tried turkey and other meat based hampers were pleased with the uptake and there was a growing movement towards set price articles.”