Lessons learnt from the World Cup burger boom!

Summer can be the season of slow trade for butcher's shops, as holiday-makers pack their bags and meal-time thoughts turn from roasts to salads.

Barbecue trade keeps the burger-machines busy, but normally-profitable Saturdays can easily turn into a nightmare during the summer, with an overstocked shop and staff standing around waiting for the absent consumers.

These are, of course, the everyday risks of running a business, but according to Andrew Garvey, head of marketing at EBLEX, forward-thinking butchers will plan for quiet periods, and make the most of calendar events to promote their products.

The World Cup is a good example. Burger sales rose by 33% in the four weeks ending 18 June. Steaks and other barbecue-meat sales were also up.

"The World Cup co-incided with good weather, which got people outside," says Garvey, "but making the most of it depends on how you market it."

The football got the nation excited, and Garvey recommends learning from this and decorating the shop with memorabilia and posters for similar occasions in the future. "It's a bit of theatre in the store, which will not only help sell more but also create an impact," he says.

Calendar events can provide butcher's shops with regular sources of inspiration for your shop, says Garvey: "For a business to keep customers stimulated you need an annual plan with hooks upon which to hang promotions. There should be something at least once a month to do something special in the shop for.

"St George's day is fairly under-utilised," says Garvey, who is keen to emphasise the posters, banners and recipe leaflets produced by EBLEX for retailers.

And, says Garvey there are more events coming up that butchers may not have thought about promoting.

Events such as the Ashes, which will be contested in Australia this autumn, for example. It may be on the other side of the world, but there is bound to be plenty of coverage, and theming your shop will tie in with EBLEX's Beefy and Lamby advertising campaign. Halloween and bonfire night are also good hooks to sell more meat, as people tend to be at outdoor parties, and if your customers are mainly women you should heavily promote family occassions such as Mothering Sunday and Father's Day.

Even bank holiday weekends are an excuse to go all-out with posters and bunting. "You might want to promote cold meats and pies for al fresco eating," says Garvey, "although it's very difficult to predict the weather."

But risk-taking is a necessary part of running a successful business, and planning around these calendar events should ensure the risk pay-off more frequently, says Garvey: "Forward-thinking guys do that all the time."

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