14th January 2009

Loyal customers make Christmas crackle, not crunch.

Maintaining a loyal customer base of credit crunch resistant shoppers has made Christmas a busy time for members of the Scotch Butchers Club.

An informal poll of Scotch Butchers Club members showed that they had had solid Christmas trade, with many high profile members posting sales increases during the festive period.

Maintaining a loyal customer base, offering continuity of personal service and attracting new ‘foodie’ customers may have been key to keeping sales strong for the independents.

In rural Aberdeenshire, Bert Fowlie butcher’s shop in Strichen saw boosted sales on this time last year. Butcher Hebbie Fowlie described the festive period as ‘hectic’, and they were completely out of stock by the new year.

Andrew Paxton from Laidlaw Butchers in Aberdeen said sales were up 7% year on year, and hasn’t seen any great changes in his customers’ buying habits, in fact people are still buying expensive cuts of meat at the weekend, rather than going out.

June Lomax, Independent Retailer Manager for QMS, said: “Butchers’ customers tend to be slightly older and may be better insulated from the effects of the credit crunch, they are also usually more confident in the kitchen as well so will look for a wider range of cuts that aren’t available elsewhere.

“In Scotland rather than just a rush up to Christmas day, butchers also do well from all those family meals in between Christmas and New Year, and particularly the traditional steak pie.

“Simon Howie butchers in Perth had an excellent holiday season, with sales up by more than 20% on 2007. They sold more than 1,000 pies at new year with people queuing down the street to get one.”

Well established Bathgate butcher David Stein took on a challenge in opening a new butcher shop in Blackburn, West Lothian, just before Christmas, giving local residents an opportunity they hadn’t had in years.

June said: “They also have reported brisk trade as local people pop in to pick up their pies and be introduced to new cuts. The current two butchers are soon to be joined by a third due to business being so good.

“Brother and sister team David and Kirstie Stein are delighted with the brisk trade in both their Bathgate and Blackburn shops and had to work into the early hours each day up to Christmas to get all their orders ready.”

For more information about the Scotch Butchers Club and to find a member near you, visit www.scotchbutchersclub.org

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