Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

OWC hails biggest ever Christmas

Published:  04 January, 2023

The year 2022 certainly had its challenges, with businesses struggling to make ends meet amid a soaring cost-of-living – and trading – crisis. However, one business is celebrating a bumper festive period, with last month offering up the best December in the company’s 30-year history.

“Even though the world is undoubtably in a controlled meltdown, retail sales for the festive period returned not only the biggest ever retail day for the company on 23 December, but the month of December also topped the charts for December figures,” John Chapman, MD of the Oxford Wine Company (OWC), told Harpers.

“Twenty third December surpassed the previous highest daily figure by nearly 14%, whilst the month was just under 1 percentage point up. Now, you could say this had something to do with where Christmas day fell, the public being frugal and then throwing caution to the wind at the last minute and treating themselves; or it could be the culmination of a steady investment in quality staff and products, which continues to gain ground and appreciation in the greater Oxford area. My money is on the latter.”

Interesting to note in OWC’s case is the impact of delayed buying behaviours on the end of year’s sales.

Friday 23rd benefited from people buying last minute gifts on what was technically the last working day of the year. However, December’s overall sales also reached a new landmark, partly due to later corporate gifting sales, which came much later than the company is used to.

“We were surprised how much corporate gifting sales for staff and clients were delayed from November to December,” said Chapman.

The OWC of course benefits from its location, with a steady flow of sales coming from an affluent population of residents academics, plus tourists.

It also saw the biggest rise in value sales in one of its smallest, most central shops. It was here, where the bottle count per sale is smallest, that the company saw the biggest increases, showing the value of local, last-minute purchases when combined with wider distribution issues around courier delivery services and Parcel Force strikes.

“These sales, on top of the boom years of retail under Covid, has been an eye opener,” Chapman said.

“Sales online have reduced [since Covid] … and when you combine that with the lack of a reliable courier system, we have seen much higher footfall in shops. This is why one of our key values is keep things local: local brokers, local stationers, etc, in the hope local patronage and [that] consumers will come our way too.”

Christmas sales at OWC were a mixture of local buying trends and Christmas treating, combined with frugal buying behaviours pushing sales back further and further into December.

Whether the same effect has played for other independent merchants, and whether it improved the bottom line for the second half of 2022 when factoring in the Christmas splurge, remains to be seen.

Please do get in touch with Harpers to share your experience of Christmas via asap ahead of next week’s January print issue of Harpers, where we will be building a picture of how the nation’s indies performed.