We at BevStrat hope that everybody had a wonderful holiday weekend that was filled with the ideal amount of family and inventory depletions. We, in my family, fell victim to the never-ending supply of wine, chocolate, turkey, political rhetoric and shopping. Needless to say, Monday is here, family has left and we collectively have 5 calendar weeks left in the 2018 campaign. Five calendar weeks, three selling weeks, and most importantly 5 groundwork weeks to lay for 2019 that will close the year for all purposes.
If we are to look at the last 5 weeks of 2018 if can be broken down like this:
November 26 – December 2, 2018 (clean up)
This whole week is recovery from the Thanksgiving run up. Spot ordering, cleaning, getting retailers and restaurants ready for the last push. The week is filled with making final shelf orders and wine lists. If the retailers happen to be bigger, this is a week to sell wines that they can use for gift baskets, closeouts or grab and go offerings.
December 3 – December 14
Final shipping orders are coming in. Wine club selections are likely made on “what’s left in bulk” and other considerations. This week for suppliers is nearly your last chance to get goods sold into market. There is a yin/yang activity here in the booze business. Accounts are trying to sell out and you are trying to sell in. Start taking any last-minute pricing considerations (where legal) and/or tasting events. I can 100% share that selling in now will be a challenge at best, especially if your brand is niche or craft.
December 20 – 21
While these two days are benign for the general public, they are not in our game. If you sell into offices or have home catering and delivery business, these two days represent the last two days of the office and home party week. Later dates can run into family holiday and vacations. If your on-premise account has been rented for events, these days and the days prior will really be the peak of the season for you. If you are an off-premise store, that customers are buying now for an off-premise event, these days will be busy and the days leading up to them will also be slammed.
December 30 – 31, 2018
For general purpose retail shops, now our business has one more week of selling. From my days in retail after Christmas shopping is small purchases but lots of people. Days prior to Christmas are less customers but far bigger purchases. The logic being that Christmas is a “home” holiday with entertaining family and New Years Eve is an “out of home” holiday involving restaurants and bars. The two days prior, stores will be slammed generally from 3pm on. Offices will go on break either with a half day on December 30th or an early exit on the 31st. Champagne and beer are generally the categories that will sell the best to the end.
All the while, anything you do from now to the end of 2018 needs to be really with an eye towards the 1st quarter. Many decisions for goods have been made already and SGWS and others have offered such compelling deals for OND that many accounts do not have the funds to bring in SKU’s that are slower moving.
This is where we are! We are 5 weeks from the end of 2018, but really 3 selling weeks from the end of 2018. Many of our readers will read a column like this and wonder if I am one beer short of a six pack. I am not! Retailer timing and consumer spending are two areas that we have worked on extensively at BevStrat and this piece is not a warning as much as it is a call to action. Brands that sell with BevStrat and brands that do not, (and both are cool with us) should understand that a sense of urgency should be bubbling now until mid to late December. There are no more next weeks and tomorrows for suppliers. Let’s get cracking out there. And if you are not selling, all hope is not lost. Anytime you get in front of an account or a buyer – you have an opportunity to build a brand.
Three Tier Talk
by Brian Rosen, www.BevStrat.com
Brian Rosen is Former CEO of America’s #1 Retailer, Sam’s Wines in Chicago, Former Partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Retail and sought after retailer consultant.
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