It’s been a stunning month for speciality food sales largely driven by great weather, despite the thunderstorms in the last week of the month. Farm shops I have spoken to have had good footfall and garden centres are reporting record sales during May after what was a miserable month for them in April, during which spring never happened. We have experienced the same at Cotswold Fayre, with an amazing May – in fact the best non-Christmas month we have ever had by more than 15%. So, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, everything in the garden is rosy when the sun is shining.
The challenge for all of us over the next few weeks will be the World Cup, In the 19 years of running Cotswold Fayre, the months containing World Cups have never been great for business. I think traditionally World Cups consisted of people buying cheap beer and snacks and locking themselves inside their houses until England are knocked out, which, in reality, means only 2 weeks. I hope it will be different this time and I am hopeful that it will for a couple of reasons. There is not the hype this year about the World Cup, little enthusiasm about the location, Russia, and little hope about England’s chances. More importantly, I do think that more consumers will be buying better quality snacks and craft beers than the traditional cheap lager and poorer quality snacks of previous World Cups. There is definitely a greater appreciation of quality food across the UK than 19 years ago, and consumers know they can buy these products from speciality food shops for special occasions. Here’s hoping!
In more good news for speciality retail, Tesco announced on Friday that they were culling 20-30% suppliers. As companies become larger, consolidation inevitably follows. It happened when Booker took over supply to Budgens and is happening currently with the Coop/Nisa take-over. All this is good news for speciality food suppliers and inevitably the more niche brands are the ones to go. Other retailers can cash in by offering variety not offered by the large corporates. I remember a brand we used to stock right at the beginning of Cotswold Fayre’s history that had stunning sales primarily for one reason. We took it on just after the salad dressing had been kicked out of Sainsbury’s. Listed for only around 6 months, the brand had followers and consumers wanting to buy it, and sales were far better than expected. History will repeat itself with brands that are kicked out of Tesco – we just don’t know what they are yet.
Have a good week – I am back to Christmas events this week.