Christmas Crescendo

Image copyright Paula Nolan Photography

I love Christmas – the whole crazy crescendo

I love Christmas.  I really love Christmas.  I love the buzz of making the season unfold and every year there’s a new surprise.  I love the pace and the satisfaction of pulling the whole operation together.  The ups and downs, the highs and lows of managing sales, volumes, quality and pricing.

I love the the whole crazy crescendo of nervous energy, excitement and tension.  You can barely take a day off in the last few weeks.  By 23rd December you and your team are truly running on empty.

Reserves?…There are none 

And you reach a point where there’s nothing much more you can do.  All the stock is out on shelf, all the pre-orders have been fulfilled, the final press ad deadline has passed, what will be will be. It’s down to the customers now.

It’s a bit like the pivotal scene in ‘The Battle of Britain’ when Prime Minister Churchill asks Fighter Command’s Air Vice Marshall Keith Park…

what other reserves have we?

and Park replies;

there are none

Breathing a sigh of relief

Suddenly, its late afternoon on Christmas eve.  You breath a sigh of relief because it is time to wrap up.  You’ve given it everything and the team are exhausted.  Another Christmas season under your belt.  Time to close up and make for home.

That’s the best bit of Christmas for me (and possibly for many of us obsessive compulsive retailers).  I love the journey home, an epic trading period behind me and nothing but family and friends ahead.

10 days to go – My first Christmas 2016 recce

It’s Thursday 15th December 2016 with just 10 trading days until Christmas. The weather has changed again and it’s 10oC outside.  Not at all wintry and certainly bad for sales!

I’ve taken a quick spin around the local Tesco, Dunnes, SuperValu, Lidl and Aldi stores.  Everyone is ready and braced for the first BIG shopping day on Saturday 17th. 

But something isn’t right….

………….there’s no buzz.

Then I remember that the children are still at school and there are lunch boxes to be filled. All the Christmas stock is out, except for the turkeys, which should start appearing the following Monday/Tuesday 19th/20th.

First up – best dressed

Tesco and Aldi are first out of the blocks with their 49c offers on carrots, sprouts, parsnips and yellow melons. Dunnes Stores follow on Saturday 17th.  It’s been a good few years since the days of 9c veg and IFA pickets

Food First Consulting Malachy O'Connor
Image copyright Paula Nolan Photography

Make or break

It’s the best time of the retail year.  Christmas can make or break your year as a retailer.  And it can result in a few grey hairs for the buyers if they run out of stock or realise they’ve ordered too much (you only ever have a 1 in 3 chance of getting it right!).

I wish the suppliers and farmers a safe Christmas as they deal with bad weather, stubborn machinery and short lead times.  With the help of God we’ll have no fatal farm accidents this Christmas.

Finally, I wish a merry Christmas trading season to all the retail operations folk who will work exceptionally hard to serve their customers in the next few days.

Merry Christmas


Food First Consulting

Christmas Mince Pies Food First Consulting

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