While preparations for Christmas have begun for most retailers and consumers, for fine food distributor Cotswold Fayre festive sales have been and gone and the results for retailers’ top product choices are in
Cotswold Fayre’s Christmas sales indicate three key trends: alcohol, and in particular gin and vodka, is very much still in, make your own kits are more popular than ever and gluten-free products are on the rise.
Making up almost a quarter of the wholesaler’s total sales to date, there’s no doubt that Christmas is a key part of the business.
Paul Hargreaves, chief executive at Cotswold Fayre said, “People don’t tend to sway too much from the traditional at Christmas, so all the usual festive treats have done well as expected, like chocolates, tinned biscuits and panettone. However, each year we do get a few surprises appearing in our top products including those from new suppliers. Often we find that what’s on trend at the time has an impact on Christmas, like we’ve seen with gin and other spirits this year.
“For us, the number one overall brand was Edinburgh Gin this Christmas, with three of its liqueurs in the top 12 best sellers. In fact, the product with the biggest increase in sales in 2017 compared to last year was Edinburgh Gin’s Rhubarb and Ginger Liqueur.”
Last year, 40 million bottles of gin were sold in the UK* and this is set to be even higher in 2017. The gin renaissance has seen record sales and earlier this year the spirit was even added to the ONS ‘basket of goods’ for the first time in 13 years.
This comes at a time when more consumers than ever are said to be trying to cut alcohol consumption and interestingly Cotswold Fayre’s best-selling product for Christmas was Braes o’ Gowrie’s Sparkling Elderflower non-alcoholic drink, both in 2016 and 2017.
For this Christmas, the range of make your own home kits has been more extensive than ever to match their increasing popularity. This year saw the introduction of Plant ‘n’ Grow’s Proseccolicious Growing Kit, jumping straight in to Cotswold Fayre’s top 40 selling ambient Christmas products, alongside their Ginalicious Growing Kit which was introduced last year.
Paul adds, “Our 2017 range of kits is by far our most varied yet, with Ross & Ross’ homemade bacon and salmon curing kits performing very well again. We’ve also seen Espresso Mushroom Company’s Kitchen Garden Mushroom making kits sell well for the third year in a row since first appearing in our portfolio.”
The rise in the number of consumers buying gluten-free options has also come into play with the fine food wholesaler’s Christmas sales this year.
“I was really surprised to see that sales of our gluten-free mince pies are currently higher than sales of any of our traditional mince pies. Gordon Rhodes’ Gluten Free Gourmet Sage & Onion Stuffing Mix is also among the top ten best sellers overall,” says Paul.
While it’s too early to see the results of its fresh Christmas sales, as customers order these closer to Christmas, Cotswold Fayre is predicting which chilled items will be popular this year.
Paul says, “Chilled sales generally increase across the board at Christmas as people like to keep their fridges full, so we expect to see our whole range perform well and retailers should too. Smoked salmon, pigs in blankets and brandy butter will all sell well, those items that are not your everyday fridge must haves but become essential over the festive period.
“A little less easy to predict, however, is whether the increase in veganism will impact chilled Christmas sales. It will be interesting to see if items like vegetarian sausages see higher sales than usual, similar to the way gluten-free products have performed within ambient.”
by James Fell