Going back to work, taking down the Christmas decorations, fighting off the frost and snow, paying the bills – there’s no getting away from it, January is grim. It’s enough to drive shoppers of all ages to actively seek any excuse to beat the winter blues with a Big Night In! Hence retailers need to make sure all food, drink and other fixtures with a link to home entertaining stay well stocked.

chazThere are plenty of excuses for a party in 2014, and for decorating stores to encourage shoppers to get into the mood. The Eurovision Song contest (God help us) is in Copenhagen on Saturday 10th May. And the FIFA World Cup 2014 starts in Manaus, Brazil on Thursday June 12 and ends on Sunday 13 July.

Meanwhile, if you can make it past the first ten days of the year – by which time three quarters of adults who make resolutions are likely to have lost confidence about keeping them – there are quite a few dates in the first quarter with a reason to celebrate.

You don’t have to be Scottish to celebrate Burns Night on Saturday 25 January. Friday 31st is Chinese New Year: 2014 is the year of the Horse. And people who submit self-assessment tax returns on line could stay up and toast midnight once again on Friday 31 January, the deadline for Internet returns and half-yearly payments.

On Sunday 2nd February shoppers can become American for the night to celebrate Groundhog Day, watching the Bill Murray classic while enjoying American food and drink, then partying US-style (plenty of options there…) After that there’s Valentine’s Day on Friday February 14, which again gives stores free rein.

Tuesday March 4th is 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 Big Night In between then and Easter Day, Sunday April 20th.

So just why is the Big Night In so popular? First, thanks to the last few years of squeezed incomes, higher food prices and less discretionary spend available there’s been a clear shift to entertaining at home.

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.

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