Cathy Frost is the owner of Loveone in St Peter’s Street, one of Ipswich’s most unique gift shops. Cathy is also the Coordinator of The Saints Traders Group
For most retailers the most important trading time of the year is the run up to Christmas. It is a time when we see elevated footfall and increased spending. In recent years although many shops have been ready for Christmas in early Autumn, the Christmas rush has not started until much later. The shift in shopping patterns and habits does create a dilemma for small business, knowing when to time the orders, take delivery of stock, and manage budgets.
It is a great time of year to be in retail. The shop is full to bursting with fabulous seasonal offerings; in particular the smell of the festive candles is always a highlight. We really embrace hygge. The Danes do hygge; they celebrate the long cold winters with candlelight and the simple pleasures like good food and spending time at home in the firelight with family and friends.
One of the most important aspects of our preparation for Christmas is the window. A lot of planning goes into this single event. It needs to last for 2 months, but also needs to be striking and inviting. We plan ours in early May, when our Christmas buying starts in earnest.
So, with the excitement building it’s often tempting to do Christmas too early in the shop. It’s a balance to get the timing right; I wait until we have let off the last firework of the season and our window is transformed and ready to be unveiled the day after Bonfire Night.
I used to really look forward to late night shopping, the novelty of shopping after hours and eating a bag of hot chestnuts. Now we can shop 24/7 online, the thrill of the late night is less attractive. We are seeing a switch to Sunday shopping, fast becoming as busy as a Saturday. So, in the last 6 weeks of the season many of us will be open 7 days a week.
The Saints will be launching Christmas season on Sunday 19th November. It will be a great opportunity to discover the Saints or revisit some of your favourite shops. I can assure you of a warm welcome, not just from the mulled wine.