How convenience retailers can thrive in festival season

How convenience retailers can thrive in festival season - Crowd at a music festival

With around 1,000 festivals held in the UK each year, there’s a real sales opportunity for retailers to get involved, with something for every customer.

For a starting point, make sure you know the details of the events closest to you, and then use social media to advertise them, highlight promotions and boost engagement.

Fi Malone, owner of Premier Tenby Stores & Post Office in Pembrokeshire, for example, has the Ironman, Ironkids, Car10 and a scooter rally right outside her store. “Most of our festivals are sports-related, but it really helps bring the tourists to town,” she explains. “The key to higher sales is ensuring you have a full range, fully stocked and the store looks great.”

How to stock the right range for festival season

How convenience retailers can thrive in festival season - Athletes and a large crowd at the ironman competition

The range you need will depend on the type of festival, with protein and hydration high on the agenda for Malone’s array of sporting events and festivals. “We make sure to increase our drinks range, from protein shakes to water,” she says. “Grenade is a big seller during Ironman, for example, as it will help with their energy throughout.”

Prior to the Ironman event, Malone’s town hosts the Ironkids event, so offering healthy grab-and-go items is required. “For the kids’ events, we have plenty of water in,” she says. “Gel sachets are also growing in popularity.”

Alcohol, soft drinks and snacks are the likely go-to products for music or day festivals, as noted by Paresh Vyas, of Jack Lane Convenience Store in Manchester. “We have the Festival of Gold about a 30-minute walk from our store, which is a family day out, so customers will come in and buy picnic items,” he says.

Crisps, snacks and chilled options are good sellers during this period for Vyas, but it’s also worth ensuring premium and health snacks form part of your range. Epicurium, for example, enhances the festival food and drink culture with a variety of crisps perfect for sharing. Their offerings include bags from the Bombay street-food-inspired brand Howdah and new lines from the established brand Proper. Proper is now exploring global flavours with their chickpea chips available in exciting varieties such as Katsu Curry, Ghost Chilli & Yuzu, and Jerk Sauce.

The importance of in-store theatre

In-store theatre captures the attention of your customers, resulting in additional sales. This can be as simple as building stacks of multipacks of alcohol, or something more complex that includes decorations or branded displays.

Malone creates a huge soft drinks display and uses PoS to advertise the event. “We have a stand and make it look professional by having a small display and regularly update the stock levels. We also use posters to show the events happening and when.”

Meanwhile, Vyas places them across his shop window so customers see it as they’re passing by, or as they enter the store. “We advertise the Cirque du Soleil every year, which brings shoppers through the door, and they ask us about the event,” he explains. “They’ll often buy something as well.”

Impactful promotions

The right promotional packages, such as multibuys or money off, are vital to maximising the festival season and will help boost spend. For instance, Mike Lakhani, owner of St Mary’s Supermarket in Southampton, reduces his alcohol range to cost-price and positions them as ‘mega deals’, which customers respond well to.

This is where suppliers can play a role. If they sponsor a festival, they will likely run a campaign of their own or produce limited-edition packaging. They will also have PoS to utilise.

The festival season is one of the biggest opportunities in summer for retailers who throw themselves into the fun. Get in touch to find out how we can help you maximise your sales.

Top tips to capitalising on festivals

  1. Festivals run all year round, so make a list of when and where relevant ones near you are
  2. Research each festival to determine the audience and therefore which products are likely to sell.
  3. Prepare ahead of time and stock up to cope with demand.
  4. Make your range stand out with in-store displays. Reach out to suppliers and wholesalers to see if they have any relevant PoS materials available.
  5. Advertise upcoming festivals on your social media, highlighting your displays and promotions you’re running.

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