We published our Christmas trading statement last week, with like-for-like sales a modest 2.9% down on the same period last year. Coming on the back of many years continuous growth this is a shame but is a creditable performance I think.
Until recently one of the more predictable tasks at Christmas was sending vans to tour the City’s financial institutions and distribute high quality champagne in large quantities. That of course is history, at least for now. Sales of champagne in particular have been hard-hit by a combination of the wave of poor economic news, strengthening of the Euro and cost rises at the cellar door.
However, we were really pleased to see our traditional ‘residential’ customer base out in force in the few days before Christmas, with sales to private customers rather than businesses holding up well. We’d have been stupid not to foresee that December would be tough, and we were ready, with lots of great wines and excellent offers. Despite the supermarkets seemingly being prepared to give some products away our combination of quality products and good service won through. I think the FT’s analysis was spot on.
We were a good retailer in November, worked hard in December, and are still a good retailer in January. That’s not really news to be honest, as it’s what we’ve been doing for years. The winners in 2009 will probably be the customers, who will punish retailers who don’t deliver. Majestic however, will be happy to oblige …