Christmas is on the cards

The early pub can catch the bookings as the second half of 2018 begins

WHILE some in the trade may still be hopeful of a few more days of sun this year, prudent licensees will be busy planning their Christmas offers.

And drinks wholesalers say the operators who firm up festive season plans early stand to reap the rewards from the enhanced level of footfall that December brings.

“I think operators should be thinking about their Christmas drinks ranges as soon as possible,” said Gregor Maclean, director at drinks distributor Huffman’s.

“Menus and social media are important and should be organised to the best they can be to avoid any inevitable delays and issues.

“As a small company, we pride ourselves on adapting and catering to the customer quickly.

“This means we can use any sort of ‘last minute’ changes to our favour and deliver quickly, bring in new brands and source products for our customers if required.”

Ian Cumming, commercial director at Inverarity Morton, agreed, saying planning for the busiest time of year can’t be left until the last minute.

He said: “It’s never too early to start planning Christmas, especially for bars and restaurants where running a Christmas menu means capturing as many advance bookings as possible.

“We will have all of our promotional deals confirmed by the end of August, giving our customers lots of time to plan ahead and plenty of advice will also be available to them on how to go about it.”

Away from Christmas, operators are advised to adapt their offers to tap into a number of autumn and winter trends, with wholesalers saying it’s possible to grow sales in a number of categories in the months ahead.

Inverarity Morton’s wine buyer, Toby Sigouin, said: “The sparkling wine category continues to expand with consumers looking increasingly beyond Prosecco.

“Spiced rum is jumping on the back of the rapid growth in dark rum and will be the next big spirits trend.”

And Maclean at Huffman’s predicts the gin boom will continue in pubs and bars through the remainder of the year; the wholesaler has introduced gin of the month offers as well as listing new tonics and soft drink alternatives to help licensees make the most of this.

He said: “Gin for us is consistently the best category.

“We focus on craft, Scottish drinks and gin is by far the best selling category.

“There is a slight rise in craft vodka and rum.

“However, I think gin will continue to grow in the second half of the year.”