Christmas hailed a success by butchers

As we enter a new year, the UK’s butchers reflect on another successful Christmas period for their businesses. 

Savills of Galmpton, in Devon, told Meat Trades Journal that this Christmas had been the most successful yet, with sales up 10%. All poultry, dry-aged ribs of beef and chipolatas sold out.

Nicholas Savill, owner of the business, said there was an increased demand for boneless crowns, as opposed to the whole turkey.

“It’s a far more valued product,” claimed Savill. “Money has been quite tight this Christmas for a lot of people, so they were looking for value this year.”

Savill said his butcher’s shop remained popular due to the relationships built with the customers: “When we do orders with customers at the beginning of December, we always take a long time with them to show them the joints, so when they come at Christmas time they know what they’re getting. Customer service makes a huge difference.”

Adrian Livesey’s Butchers, located in Preston, said a steady increase felt over the past five years continued during Christmas 2015. Sam Livesey, butchery manager at the firm, said that although turkey breast outsold whole turkey this year, the real winner of the season was dry-cured gammon.

“The dry-cured gammon has been fantastic,” he said. “In the area we’re in nobody else does it, so we’ve got a nice little niche.”

He attributed this consumer demand for gammon to customers wanting more high-value products: “People are wanting quality, especially at the one time of year where they want a meal guaranteed. They don’t mind coming down to the butcher’s and placing their orders.”

Although popular at Christmas, Livesey admitted that some customers only shopped at the butchers once a year. “You see people, they come in two weeks before Christmas, buy a bit of meat, place their order and you see them again when they collect their order and you don’t see them again until the following year, but that has always been the case,” he said.

“All you can do is your best for them and, on the off-chance they might think ‘Actually, this is far better quality than we’re getting at the supermarkets’, you stand the chance of maybe getting them throughout the year.”

He said the business would focus on finding ways to anchor customers for the coming year. “We want to go more digitalised,” he said. “We’re trying to do more promotion on our Facebook page and we’re taking orders through a computer system this year.”

Damon Buckingham, butchery manager at Surrey-based Black Barn Butchers, said he noticed the positive impact that utilising social media can have on a business.

“People certainly jump on Facebook more than anything else. We have a lot more response on that, especially throughout the year. If we put anything in the local paper, we don’t get as much response. We’ve put coupons in the papers before, for stuff like 10-20% off, but we get a lot more response through social media.”

Sales for Christmas 2015 at Black Barn Butchers remained solid, with turkey and geese turnover being up on the previous year.

Looking forward, Buckingham has noticed that ready-meals have been popular post-Christmas. The company first launched its range of ready meals in October 2015 and has a special multi-deck fridge for the products.

Buckingham believed the demand was due to convenience. “It’s comfort eating and easiness,” he said. “They’re a reasonable price and it saves time. As soon as we came back, the first couple of days we sold out straight away and, every day since, we’ve been making them up as we’ve been going along. They’ve been flying out.”

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