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The votes have been counted, the results are in and we now know which stores triumphed and which fared less well over the Christmas period. With Next and Waitrose leading the way with increased sales, the turn of the year saw weaker results for M&S and Morrisons. The ‘big two’ battle was won by Sainsbury’s which posted increased sales, albeit by 0.2%, whilst Tesco dropped by 1.1% on like for like sales.
Of course these are just headline figures and whilst they may be of interest to leader writers, it is not until you delve beneath the surface that the true picture starts to emerge. Pre-Christmas discounts, shoppers looking around for a bargain or deciding to ‘shop up’ for festive food can all make a difference to results. The challenge for the stores posting good Christmas figures will be to retain some of that momentum into 2014.
And that challenge is not an easy one. It may be glib to say that supermarkets and large stores are impersonal and that shoppers are looking for bargains, for quality at the right price or for affordable fashion but to stop there is to ignore the personal relationship which we build with our regular haunts. We may venture forth for a special occasion but when it comes to regular shopping we are looking for the familiar, the comforting, the service and the staff attitude which is familiar.
We can buy a tin of beans anywhere, persuading us to buy beans elsewhere on a regular basis means adding something extra, providing exceptional levels of service or that added extra ingredient which resonates with us.