buyer’s diary

Monday

Bravo Nisa, whose ‘making a difference-locally’ TV campaign painted a great picture of what local stores do for their communities.

Spar is capitalising on its sponsorship of UK Athletics. It will be interesting to see how it can exploit this investment during the 2012 Olympic Games. Its new vehicle livery is very powerful.

Aldi and Lidl have outperformed Marks amp; Spencer and most other leading multiples this Christmas. A Which? survey claimed that more than 11,000 members placed Waitrose first for the third year running.

Tesco, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons lost ground to Aldi and Lidl, who were ranked second and third respectively.

The quality and scale of TV advertising from Weight Watchers over Christmas was amazing. Add the Gary Rhodes glossy Weight Watchers seven-day meal planner free in the Daily Mail and ask how will over-weight Britain respond to the Weight Watchers campaign?

Lidl’s January 99p Big Savings promotion looks great but cunningly they don’t always tell you the previous price, except for Aunt Bessie’s mouth watering morello cherry pie, price marked pound;1. Still, it’s a penny saved.

Tuesday

There is no let up in supermarket price wars.

Sainsbury’s has extended its Brand Match pricing scheme and Tesco continues its Big Price Drop campaign with another wave of price cuts. Morrisons, which recently announced plans to employ 7,000 more people and open 25 new stores in 2012, continues its Great British Price Crunch promotion and is offering free shopping for five people everyday in every store throughout January.

Problems facing the on trade are highlighted by the demerged Punch Tavern group which delivered a combined pound;542m pre-tax loss for the year to August 2011. People are visiting the pub less often and reducing spend on food and drink. One pub group is offering a pint of lower alcohol (2.8% ABV) ale for just pound;2 a pint but will this be enough to satisfy drinkers and increase footfall?

According to The Office of National Statistics, pound;1 in every pound;10 is now spent online by consumers, the biggest figure on record. Internet shopping is here to stay. Recent Tesco’s TV advertising shows how easy it is to shop for food on line and the sighting of Ocado, Waitrose, Sainsbury and Tesco delivery vehicles in my quiet backwater almost daily makes this quite believable.

Wednesday

The Wine and Spirit Trade Association says wine sales are falling in the UK high street and the pace of decline is accelerating.

Latest figures show shop sales down 3% by volume in the 12 months to November and down 4% over the last quarter. Sales by value are up 3% for the year, due to increases in excise duty and VAT. In pubs, bars and restaurants wine sales were down 6% in volume while sparkling wines were up 2%.

The WSTA suggests that while some categories are bucking the trend, ‘the prospect of a further above inflation tax increases in the March Budget, amid gloomy economic forecasts, offers little joy for consumers or the trade.’

My local Spar retailer is concerned about the increase in delivery charges imposed by his wholesaler when his order doesn’t meet the minimum drop.

He must buy goods he doesn’t need to meet the terms, but whenever he handsomely exceeds them there is no reward. Wholesalers fight suppliers over delivery terms so why are they blind to the problem facing retailers? A more flexible approach is needed.

Thursday

The Top Products survey published in The Grocer on December 17 made excellent reading. It should be a bible to all independent retailers in range management and merchandising.

Family friends operating a well established symbol group store lost over 20% of their business in Christmas trading due mainly to the recent opening of a new Tesco store just five miles away. It’s a bitter pill to swallow but the family are determined to fight back and offer their local community quality, value and new services in the New Year.

I was surprised to see that the Dr Pepper brand is worth over pound;83m, and grew by 13.5% last year. The new pack designs for 2012 are aimed to improve shelf standout and CCE is promising some exciting activity for the brand later in the year.

Friday

Nestl eacute; is investing pound;3m in a TV led campaign for Nescaf eacute; Original Coffee, aiming to increase awareness of the new refill.

Already acknowledged as the biggest brand in the coffee category, Nestl eacute; wants to get it off to a good start in 2012. Its curious advice to retailers says: ‘To take advantage of the expected sales increase that we expect this campaign will generate, ensure you stock the core Nescaf egrave; Original jars’. Well, obviously!

Anyone for soup? Heinz is investing pound;1m for an integrated marketing campaign to support the category while launching two special editions to its Classic Soup range Cream of Tomato with a Twist of Chilli and Cream of Chicken with a Touch of Sage. To me, both have about as much appeal as Mackies Haggis amp; Cracked Pepper potato crisps now on sale at Lidl, but HJH believes these lines will be a big hit with consumers.

As the government reconsiders a minimum pricing for alcohol in England and Wales, I am getting shivers down my spine. The proposed/speculated price points are ridiculous and, if applied, will alienate the responsible drinking majority. Commentators have suggested that unless these proposals are carefully thought through, the idea will leave both drinkers and ministers with an unpleasant hangover.

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