A few hints for Christmas Trends, from some of the UK’s leading retailers

A few hints for Christmas Trends, from some of the UK’s leading retailers
"Predicting trends is always a bit of science and a bit of luck” Nicola Jenkins, Tomy’s

If you’re still hoping, as I am, that we’re still in for an Indian Summer, it feels very early doors to be thinking about Christmas but here at Inside Retail we know indies are already planning for the most important season of the year. The BBC article focusses on large retailers but with their big trend forecasting budgets and marketing experts, it’s well worth keeping an ear to the ground for early announcements like this while there is still time to borrow their ideas!

“The festive season begins for a lot of retailers when they send out their invitations for summer Christmas events. Companies hold them to make sure their products are included in the December issues of magazines.

On a balmy summer’s evening in London, while groups of people are enjoying a few cocktails under a cloudless sky, just off Oxford Street the Christmas festivities are already underway.

A branch of the Italian restaurant chain, Carluccio’s, is holding its Christmas press day. Amongst the mounds of fake snow, exquisitely wrapped presents and piles of slightly melted Italian chocolates, head of retail Emma Woodford stands proudly by the panettone display.

“Christmas is the biggest time of the year for us and we love it,” she enthuses, showing off a novel twist on the sweet Italian bread. “This has a prosecco filling which is piped to get an even coverage. I think it’s a new classic.”

I learned from head gift buyer, Anna Rigby that John Lewis had a runaway success last year with its Prosecco flavoured gummy bears and Carluccio’s trend watchers clearly believe Prosecco will still be big news come Christmas. Make sure that whatever you choose, it’s delicious!

“Waitrose is also looking to innovate when it comes to flavours. Last year, its Christmas range included a banana and bacon trifle. This year they’re experimenting with chocolate mince pies.

So how does the company get its Christmas stock right and make sure it doesn’t end up with piles of reduced food in January? Natalie Mitchell, head of brand development and product innovation says it’s all in the preparation.

“Planning starts 18-24 months in advance, we look at global trends and try to understand where customers might want something different. Forecasting is a military operation and the main thing is not to run out of products.”

Planning on a Waitrose scale is impossible for small retailers but the military approach to stock management is critical and totally manageable no matter what your size. Try this article for advice, it’s geared to online retailers but applies to everyone.

In an air-conditioned temporary show room on Baker Street, toy manufacturer Tomy is showing off its festive must-haves.

“I put up the Christmas tree this morning,” says Tomy’s Nicola Jenkins, above the noise of a video game.

“Predicting trends is always a bit of science and a bit of luck. We put the products in the hands of parents, children and influencers - word of mouth is really important.”

So what are Nicola’s picks for this year? “Pokemon is still really hot and we’re expecting the next level of Lightseekers games to do well.”

Great tips here for Pokemon and Lightseekers. Try Autumn Fair for last minute orders. You may not have the opportunity to conduct focus groups with gangs of kids to check your planned purchases but how about using your social media following while you’re at trade shows, to gauge opinions? Just make sure you check with stall holders before taking pictures. Once you’ve taken delivery, get the word out. You want your customer to plan to buy from you, not from Amazon!

Outside Selfridges, a trio of visitors from Finland were more than happy to contemplate buying baubles in summer.

“I start planning in summer,” says Diina, “it takes away the stress at Christmas. In Finland you can’t start Christmas shopping until November, even though we’re the land of reindeer, snow and Santa Claus.”

In today’s competitive selling environment, shops, bars and restaurants have to get it right. George MacDonald, of Retail Week, says success boils to down to a few key rules.

“It’s about getting on top of new trends, having exclusive products and doing the basics perfectly.”

This final advice from George MacDonald is absolutely relevant for everyone, no matter the size of your business. Start from your unique selling point, or brand personality and then decide what trends and ‘basics’ apply to you. For personal advice try the workshops or experts appointment at Autumn Fair. Book here https://www.autumnfair.com/visit/whats-on/workshops#/ Loads of luck from the team at IR as you start planning for Christmas!