It's the most wonderful time of the year so it's the perfect occasion to tempt more customers through your doors and keep them staying longer.

 

Due to a warmer winter and changing habits at Christmas, the on-trade experienced like-for-like sales growth of 4.1 per cent in 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.

Last year, Mad Friday, known as the last working Friday before Christmas had the highest rate of sale over the festive period, eclipsing New Year's Eve.

This year, Mad Friday is set to fall on 20th December, and there is a big opportunity to boost sales in the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year. 

Now, Heineken UK has provided some top tips to boost your sales over the festive period.

1. All the trimmings
Turkey, brussels sprouts, Christmas pudding; you name it – food has become integral to festive occasions in the on-trade. One in two visits involve both food and drink and more consumers are heading to pubs and restaurants for their Christmas dinner.

Festive menus: Create the ultimate festive feast, ensuring you stay true to your outlet's style and audience. Use chalkboards, menus and table talkers to shout about your offering, as well as online promotion via your website and social media.

Social savviness: A huge growth area in recent years are food posts on Instagram, so this is the best platform for showcasing food content.

Bookings and pre-ordering: Even if you don't have an online booking system, consider offering customers the option of pre-ordering food and drink to streamline service on the day.

2. Premiumise
Consumers are willing to pay more and try new drinks at Christmas, and their on-trade experiences and decisions are often treat-led. 40 per cent expect to see a wider range over the period. 

Premium ranges: While most beer and cider categories see an increased rate of sale over Christmas, look at stocking premium 4% and continental premium lager brands like Birra Moretti and Amstel.

 No & Low: With 50 per cent of consumers now moderating their alcohol intake, ensure you offer the health-conscious and designated drivers products that make them feel part of the festive occasion. Remember to include these in festive drinks deals alongside alcohol counterparts to offer your customers greater choice.

Visibility: 51 per cent of consumers who tried new drinks over Christmas in 2018 were influenced to do so by promotions or adverts, so it's key for outlets to introduce festive or innovative serves to remain relevant and keep them front of mind.

Quality: Over a third (34 per cent) of customers would pay extra for a better quality drink over Christmas than at any other time of the year. Word of mouth recommendations and return business are essential, so ensure you have a good cellar management routine, knowledgeable staff and a balanced range.

3. Festive spirit
Driven by the phenomenal popularity of gin, spirits saw a 9 per cent uplift in value share over Christmas last year in comparison to 2017. 

Seasonal cocktails: From hot gin toddies and spiced negronis, to eggnog and Bucks Fizz, consider adding a mix of classic cocktails and creative concoctions to your drinks list.

Turn up the heat: Given the trends for more warming flavours, why not incorporate a mulled wine or cider to your offering?