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Finding Footfall: Celebrating seasonal

Our regular column shining a light on retail trends takes a look at some of the seasonal favourites and innovation spotted in stores.

Another peak season is coming to a close and the push for those vital Christmas sales is up to the wire to get as much cash in the tills ahead of the shutters coming down on Christmas Eve.

As the excitement builds, the Spotlight.1888 team has been walking the floors of high streets, grocers and retail parks to pick out their seasonal favourites and innovation spotted at retail.

Footfall4The crucial quarter was kick-started way back in October with the seasonal phenomenon of Halloween that becomes a larger retail moment year-on-year. Across grocery and value retail we saw licences tap into the excitement for all ages with decorations from Disney’s Mickey Mouse to duvet sets from fan powerhouses; Squishmallows, Bluey and Stitch. The stature of these licences and how they’ve carved out shelf space for this spooky seasonal event demonstrates the customer appeal to bring the event to life in their homes; despite the tightening of our pockets this year.

However, whether Halloween took over your homes or not, it was all forgotten about as of 1 November at retail with the arrival of the most wonderful time of the year. However, one licence that you couldn’t avoid and is the ultimate antihero to Christmas is The Grinch. From mainstream retailers like Primark to Tesco offering apparel ranges for all ages to stocking fillers from The Entertainer and Claire’s Accessories; the colour of the season was that recognisable green. Grinch has been a reemerging brand at Christmas across the last few years but 2023 seems to have been his – further demonstrating the continued momentum of retro favourites appealing to big kids as well as small.

Footfall5Other licences come into their own especially for Christmas in FMCG too with Raymond Briggs’s 1978 picture book, The Snowman, appearing in the confectionery category with Marshmallows and Fox’s Biscuits as well as a Pie & Biscuit Stamp being found in the Food Hall of one of the team’s local Blue Diamond garden centres.

The Grinch popped up again this time in the food gifting aisles with chocolate, candy floss and biscuit decorating kits merchandised together to inspire shoppers at Home Bargains. Again, proving recognisable and much-loved characters continue to appeal and bring comfort to us, especially at Christmas.

Footfall3Peak is as competitive a period as any for retail with winners and losers fighting for our spend which is even more so with the cost of living biting this Christmas. However, with challenge comes innovation across retail with activations planned to drive footfall to shopping centres and retail parks. Examples the team have seen while on the road include Mog’s interactive Christmas trail at Cribbs Causeway. Ahead of Mog’s Christmas special on Channel 4, families can enjoy meeting their favourite moggy and follow him across the shopping centre and discover what mischief he’s been up to. In partnership with Bakehouse, the activation brings the personality of Mog to life at Christmas for families for free.

Offering entertainment for families in the run-up to Christmas, either free or through purchasing tickets, is a great way to engage with a retailer’s target audience and inspire purchase of licensed product such as the Mog activation. Other more traditional offerings include Santa Letter Workshops at the likes of The Entertainer or a Santa Letter Postal Service at John Lewis; both of which offering what appears to be a non-commercial and traditional activation but also captures much-valued customer data for those retailers.

Footfall6Depending on the size of the stores’ footprint or outside space, we have seen takeovers of car park space at grocers or high streets across the country hosting Christmas markets with food and seasonal inspiration on offer.

Other activities were found at Fenwick in Kingston with Santa’s Grotto hosted next to the toy section and Christmas Cocktail Making Workshops in partnership with spirits brand, Sapling. This was hosted at Fenwick’s Fuego restaurant; showcasing again how retailers are innovatively utilising their spaces to continue to make their locations destinations at Christmas.

Footfall2Other favourites picked-up by the Spotlight.1888 team include partnerships that personify the season of goodwill such as Fat Face’s collaboration with homeless charity, Shelter. With 10% of sales from the range going to support the charity at a particularly difficult time for those in need, Fat Face is one of the leaders in partnerships with purpose. In the retailer’s own words, this range is ‘designed to look good and do good.’

More out of the box licensing agreements include Stacy Solomon’s winter-inspired scents with her own Air Wick range, ‘Cosy Cottage’. The singer, TV personality and now interior design guru, has especially extended her retail footprint both in-store and online this year with an exclusive homeware range at Asda and clothing collections with In The Style to name a couple.

Footfall1Last but not least it would be remiss of me to wrap-up on licensing at retail in 2023 without mentioning Primark – whether it’s the Barbie Movie or NBA the team have continued to lead the way in licensing this year.

Whether you love or hate a brand, licensing when done right is intended to cause a response – even if it’s Primark’s own Christmas jumper modelled by our founder and ceo, Will Stewart. I’ll leave you to ask him if it’s a thumbs up or down for this one…

Happy Christmas to all readers and here’s to a successful 2024!

Hannah Redler is co-founder of Spotlight.1888, created in November 2021 to help brands and licensees with retail services, and retailers with licensing strategy.

Based on an extension of The Point.1888’s retail-first model, whereby new products are created based on the gaps seen at retail as well as what it thinks the brand’s target demographic might like, Spotlight.1888 works directly with retailers and brands to help them fill the gaps themselves using the agency’s retail team expertise.

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