I am writing this sitting in the garden under a scorching sun. The birds are singing, my daughter is at a pool party and I can smell a cooked breakfast from the kitchen. Literally everything in the garden is rosy, especially as I spent most of the previous two days of this Bank Holiday Weekend gardening and buying plants. When I logged onto my laptop this morning the only e-mail there since yesterday was from Garden Trade News with the lead article from various large garden centres reporting record sales for this weekend, so for us that should make next week rosy too as these stores stock up with products. By the way, did you know that it was World Naked Gardening Day on Saturday? Perfect weather for it. I had no idea until today (Monday), my neighbours are very pleased to know!
As I mentioned I know our sales next week will be very good. They always are after a good weekend for weather, although if it becomes too hot (and today is bordering on that) then there can be a negative impact as consumers tend to be in their garden and too chilled to go out and buy food for the barbeque. On balance though I would say this weekend has been a perfect weekend for sales. However, I do find it slightly frustrating that sales within the speciality food sector are impacted more by the weather than the mainstream grocers. I do not have any empirical evidence to back this up, but I know it’s true. Too wet and cold in the summer has a negative effect and conversely too warm in November and December also has a negative impact, presumably as consumers are not feeling the Christmas Spirit if it is not cold toward Christmas.
Of course, we eat pretty much the same all year round, but I am thinking that consumers are feeling more in a mood to treat themselves when the weather is summery in summer. Let’s face it, for most people speciality food is a treat and not a daily staple. I wish this were not true, but for most of the population it is, due to financial reasons. What we need to do more of is entice consumers into our retail outlets more by persuading them that not everything within them is expensive. I think the Tom Kerridge series #topoftheshops is doing an excellent job of showing normal Yorkshire people appreciating good food. Filmed in Town End Farm Shop in North Yorkshire it is also excellent for the farm shop sector, raising the profile of the farm shop as being a great place to shop. The only downside for me is that the artisan producers so far (I have only watched episodes 1 & 2) are very, very small indeed, to the point of being non-commercial. Quite often the backdrop of the in-store tastings is a shelf of Pukka Tea, a company owned by Unilever, which emphasizes the contrast.
On the whole though, the programme is a great thing for us within the speciality food world, and hopefully this together with a warm summer will give us exactly what we need for the rest of 2018.