BIG NIGHT IN – Big Nights In to beat the winter blues

As the Christmas and New Year euphoria drains away, January sees consumers actively seeking occasions to beat the winter blues with a Big Night In. So retailers need to make sure all food, drink and other fixtures with a link to home entertaining stay well stocked.

There are no Jubilee or Olympics to look forward to in 2013, but there are still plenty of excuses for a party, and for decorating the store to encourage shoppers to get into the mood.

If you can make it past the first three weeks of the year – by which time over half the New Year’s resolutions have been abandoned, by the way – there are quite a few dates to celebrate. You don’t have to be Scottish to celebrate Burns Night on Friday 25 January. And in these austere times, no doubt the Chancellor would love us to stay up and toast midnight on Thursday 31 January, the deadline for UK online self-assessment tax returns to reach HMRC and due taxes to be paid.

February gets better: on Saturday 2nd shoppers can become American for the night to celebrate Groundhog Day, watching the Bill Murray film while enjoying American food and drink, then partying US-style (plenty of options there…) A week later on Sunday 10th it’s Chinese New Year: 2013 is the year of the Snake. Two days later, on Tuesday February 12h, it’s Pancake Day, and if you really want to get into it, the excuse for a full-scale Mardi Gras carnival in your store, with staff in fancy dress! After that, shoppers can switch to ‘low/no’ alternatives for their next Big Night In, before partying down for Comic Relief Night on Friday 15th March.

So what Big Nights In trends can we expect to see in 2013? First, as a nation we are eating out less. Or as Defra put it, “UK energy intake from food and drink recorded as eating out increased by 3.1% in 2010 but has still fallen 17% since 2001-02.” In plain English that means more eating in – and more Big Nights In.

Second, thanks to Jamie, Nigella and the Bake Off crew, home cooking has never been more popular – including food for home entertaining.

Lastly as a nation we’re much healthier now, reading product labels, eating our 5 pieces of fruit and veg a day and watching what we drink, but that doesn’t mean the end of the line altogether for those Big Night In stalwarts, alcoholic drinks and salty and sugary treats. They’ve been joined in the shopping list by healthy snacks, imaginative adult-oriented soft drinks and herbal teas. As our habits change, it’s all part of the modern British Big Night In! Cheers.

The Grocery Trader