The first three weeks of January are probably the gloomiest time of the year. The Christmas and New Year celebrations are a fading memory: the decorations have come down: only the bills are left to deal with. It’s all the more reason to have a get together and banish the blues with a Big Night In.

GTpngWith convenience held up to us as one of the crucial areas where supermarkets and Co-ops need to up their game, the Big Night In is an occasion for the multiples, and in particular their smaller, convenience-format stores, to show what they have to offer.

The Big Night In came into prominence in convenience retailing in the 1980s, the heyday of in-store video rentals in neighborhood shops. It presented retailers with a golden merchandising opportunity: customers would visit the video rental fixture for a movie for that evening, and then ‘shop’ the nearby soft drinks, confectionery and snacks sections for treats to go with it, maybe even going to the beers, wines and spirits and biscuits and cakes sections.

Video and DVD rentals are history, but the Big Night In is still with us. Like our viewing habits generally, it has fragmented somewhat into the stereotypes of gaming sessions for the younger lads, sport watching, again mainly for men, and movie and series box set watching for women and families. Or something like that! Everyone has their idea of what makes a Big Night In, and all variations provide a profitable opportunity for supermarkets, Coops and convenience store chains.

Convenience retailing is all about instant gratification; there’s no knowing when the Big Night In bug will strike. Consumers on a mission will dive into their local convenience format outlet and buy what they find in front of them, starting with drink, sweets and other treats. Snack products do well across the board in these situations, and there are no rules about what’s good and what’s not. From biscuits and cakes to savoury snacks, confectionery, ice cream and microwaveable hot snacks like Kepak’s Rustlers, if it’s a treat they’ll take it.

Going back to banishing the blues, after the first few weeks of January, the excuses for celebrations come along like buses. There’s Burns Night on Monday 25th January; Chinese New Year on Monday 8th February; Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) on Tuesday 9th February and Valentine’s Day on Sunday 14th. Stay fully stocked with the big sellers and make every night a Big Night In.

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