Small Business Lifeskills: The Independent Retailer’s Guide to Promoting Easter

8 Reasons To hold Easter as a Promotional Event 

Here are eight reasons why Easter is a good Promotional Event for artisan food shops. 

  1. Easter is the biggest event of the year after Christmas that crosses all retail formats.  It is widely advertised in every environment, which means you have to do less to grab people’s attention and your existing customers expect you to deliver  You can’t miss it. 
  2. Easter is food focused – food shops are best placed to take advantage 
  3. Winter is Over! Customers are opening their wallets properly for the first time since Christmas, we need to be ready 
  4. It’s school holidays, plus people have two bank holidays to build events around.  Family and groups of friends are meeting, eating and spending.

That should convince you, but here are some more: 

  1. You can offer a substantial revenue-earning seasonal offer 
  2. Your regular customers are likely to make additional trips to your store 
  3. If you are looking good, new customers will try you out for the first time 
  4. It’s a long-lasting promotional event – three weeks or more. 

So, we need to plan some months in advance; January is usually the best time to start. Some suppliers will be offering Easter stock before Christmas, and the big chain retailers will be looking at it six to nine months before, but our sector generally doesn’t need to. 

The fly in the ointment is Easter moves around, it is not the same weekend each year. The best date is mid to late school holidays   – 4th– to 14th April, giving us a decent gap after Mothers’ Day (third Sunday in March). Very early Easters can mess with your sales forecasts. 

Goals: What does success look like? 

Easter is such a substantial event you can concentrate on big revenue. It is an opportunity to cash in those loyalty brownie points you have been building up with your regular customers and turn them into ringing tills.   

So, your main goal is:  Earn an additional one to three weeks in revenue 

I would add a second goal: Capture data on or revisits by new customers  

Big events always draw new visitors to add to and maintain your customer numbers. 


There are three types of budget you need to consider: 

1: Budget for ordinary stock (general and seasonal stock)  

You will need to stock up. You will get more visitors who are trading up for festive events, so your across-the-board stock will pleasantly come under pressure. 

Remember: Delishops suggests you classify stock into three types: 

  • General Sock: stock you sell all year 
  • Seasonal stock: stock for extended periods to match customer changing habits during the year typically lasting 8-12 weeks 
  • Promotional Stock – which you stock for specific promotional events] 

2: Budget for Easter stock  

For new start-up’s this is always hard, so as a conservative starter, look for 10-20% of daily sales for the two weeks heading into Easter. 

If this isn’t your first rodeo, bump up last year’s sales by 15-20%. 

3: Budget for Merchandising  

For ordinary Promotional Events I look to 3% of new turnover – the sales uplift you want from Easter. You should be able to get away with less than that, as sales will be higher than your average promotional event,however, Easter is an All Shop event, so you will need bunting  the whole works. 

What to stock 

You will be offered lots of “Easter” stock from just about everyone.  Let’s start with the big Easter Egg problem. 

Easter Eggs  

Every garage forecourt and supermarket will be offering Cadburys and Nestle Easter eggs for a few pounds.  These are cheaper than you can probably buy them, and they set a benchmark of low price expectation that can put shade on your offer.  This is the way things are, and you can’t change that. 

  • Charlie’s Top Tip. Don’t Compete. 
  • For most of us, with those eggs: The margin is poor 
  • The total return is poor – £1 to £2 per product 
  • You look bad compared to the “Esso” on the corner 
  • There is no differentiation, they won’t draw people into your shop 
  • You don’t have the footfall to get through the big numbers to make it worthwhile 
  • It may cheapen your reputation. 

So where is our market?  

Many people will buy a special egg for their close family members, or just the husband or wife.  Today people are moving away from disposable same-old, same-old calories in cheap chocolate form.  If they are going to have chocolate, and they do, they want to make it count, something good.  Find those eggs.  There are some really good egg providers out there in our sector. Look to them. Make sure the chocolate is very good quality. 

Let your customers buy 60-80% of their eggs from Esso and sell them the one to four premium eggs they want to buy that are a cut above.  That is still a lot of eggs. If you are a large farm shop or convenience store, you may still stock some Smarties eggs or such like to complete the offer if you have the space. 

High quality chocolate eggs, displayed well at the £9-£20 range will sell, and the more confidence you have (the bigger the pile) the more they will sell.  Stack them high and make it an expectation that customers should be spending those prices on their most-loved ones. 

A note on packaging over taste:  most gifts need to deliver real packaging excellence to endure, as the impact is in the buying and the giving, not the consuming.   

Easter eggs are slightly different, as the gift is likely to be consumed by a close family member of the giver, so they will get immediate feedback on the quality.  Bunnies in tin foil made with palm oil chocolate no matter how cool looking aren’t going to hack it for that special person. He or she will just hand it to the kids. 

See it as an opportunity: establish your shop as the place to get good quality chocolate


  • Having stock left over.  If you are selling smallish number in some lines, a few left over can severally damage your margin. Better to go a bit short than a bit long. 

CHARLIE RECOMMENDS: have some stickers or ribbon to dress items as Easter if you need more stock at the last minute. These items can go back on the shelves without their Easter decorations on Easter Monday. 

  • anything apparently similar from a cheaper supplier, often stocked in supermarkets 

Supermarkets and the major manufacturers evolve their offer each year, each year taking away from our sector good performers as they industrialise them.   You will see decline if you don’t change your Easter lines at least to a degree each year.  Watch what the supermarkets are doing and amend those second deliveries and the following year’s orders accordingly 

Promotions and customer incentives  

Easter is a Cashing-in event, not a Discounting event.  This means: 

  • No sales 
  • No product discounts 
  • Top range prices for all products 
  • An opportunity for annual price rises 

Here are some Product Promotions 

Easter packaging Promote your Easter branded stock with emphasis on How unusual it is How big it is 
Quality chocolate Promote the higher quality of your confectionary by emphasising The producers you are using Tasters to show quality 
Custom packaging Add your own custom packaging to products,using  Easter ribbon – your logo, coloured yellow or saying Easter (available online) Bags or supplier provided gift or selection packs 
Hampers Create Easter Hampers for a range of purposes and prices such as: Mum or Dad;  Whole family Older relatives Easter meals 
Pocket money friendly Kids like to buy presents too for their family so make sure you have some low priced Easter sweets 
Online vouchers Always promote your online vouchers 
Click & Collect gifts Put your promotional products on your website and make them available for Click and Collect.  It not only makes sales but advertises what you have 
Events Pancakes, Easter Meal deals, Hot Cross Buns, Paint an Egg competition 
Special interest groups Promote your Vegan, Dairy Free, Sugar Free and other Easter gift options 

Promotions are more than about a higher value product or experience. They show a culture instore of change, excitement, value – all pushing to get your customer to believe in you, believe that you are there for them.  Promotions build trust beyond their specific aim. 

And Price Promotions 

Multibuys Multibuys always look good with a nice big Easter Save sign.  Farm shops can bring together recipe deals, delis can do cheese platters.  The aim is increased basket spend. 
Loyalty club reward Always have a few discounts on popular products for club members only to reinforce loyalty.  Choose items you can mark up and then discount down to your target gross margin.   
Come Back Soon voucher As one of the year’s big events, Come Back Soon vouchers are a good way to get those new or irregular visitors to visit more often.   

Charlie’s Top Tip: Loyalty club member benefits or discounts should always be immediately available, so customers are incentivised to sign up and get the deal there and then.  Don’t worry if they live in Vancouver when you are in Dorset.  They will still believe in you and talk about you expansively while they are in the area. 

Note – who are your competition?  For Easter, even non-Christian or non-religious people are buying due to the bank holidays and school holidays. It is therefore not a question of if they are buying, but where from.  These locations may not be your regular competition. 

Have a good look at your local area and review who your competition is.  Take pictures every year of one or two key competitors and buy different or better the following year. 

Channel review 

Where are we going to promote our promotions? 


Window display Essential Have it in place as soon as Mothers’ Day is over.  Depending on when Easter falls, this can be a few days to a few weeks.  If Easter is really early, you may need to overlap. 
Tills Essential Pack those tills with Easter Goodies.  That is the time to sell those extra 50p to £5 impulse purchases. 
Main display Essential You may choose to have several significant stand-alone displays in different parts of the store with different Easter themes – gifts, chocolate eggs, cooking. 
Shelf wobblers Recipes Highlight Easter meal ideas around the store with shelf wobblers or stars.  Keep bringing the customers’ attention back to getting that extra something celebratory for their Easter gatherings. 
Signage Unusual products Signs are for those products the customers may not be aware that you offer or you are only doing for the Easter period.  Examples would be: Online products and services Easter recipes, meal deals, meats, cheeses or breads  Easter promotions 

Team chat/Loyalty club sign up 

Get your team messages tight – roll play, repetition and practice.  Ensure they know all the promotions. 

“What are you doing this Easter?” is the most powerful question.  It gives your team an in for offering relevant products and services.   

  • “My grandchildren are coming to stay” – recommend the paint an egg competition or eggs for an Easter egg hunt 
  • “The family is coming for Easter lunch” – recommend the Easter cheese board, some Easter table decorations or your Easter pudding 
  • “We are going to my boyfriend’s parents” – recommend the Member’s discount on the box of Easter Chocolates as a thank you present 

Your Newsletter, Website & Facebook 

Your newsletter, website and Facebook page must show the facts for quick and easy reference.  Here are some Easter essentials: 

  • Your opening times:  There are two bank holidays and a Sunday in the Easter weekend, a material number of customers will make incorrect assumptions about when you will be open.  Get it out there. 
  • Your Easter range: your newsletter, website and Facebook are your virtual shop windows, so dress them and get your products on show. 
  • Your promotions: list them and show the value and quality of your offer.  Make the case that the customer will be letting themselves and their family down if they don’t come to get those special things from you this Easter.  Every other shop is second best. 

Social media: Facebook PLUS your favourite SM channel –  

Warm up period [March] Talk about you getting ready for Easter, whether it’s your ordering, recipe trials, eating an Easter egg broken on delivery.  You are a community not a shop, let them see behind the curtain. 
Lent to week before Easter Get ready for the lead in: Shrove Tuesday/Pancake day: 25th February Easter egg display Quotes, images and evidence of provenance of your chosen suppliers – prove they aren’t Nestle. 
Week before Easter Post images to show your  hot cross buns best product, preferably with customers buying them ‘running out of stock’ Customers smiling  
Good Friday and Easter Saturday Post with urgency, show things running out and how happy your customers are that they bought from you. 
Easter Sunday Wish Happy Easter to all your customers 

Promotional Period 

Key dates: 

  • Shrove Tuesday/Pancake Day 25th February 
  • Mothers’ Day is March 22nd 
  • School holidays Saturday March 28th to Sunday April 13th (holidays may vary slightly) 
  • Last weekend before Easter begins 3rd April 
  • Easter is Sunday 12th April  

The promotional period should be scheduled: 

25th February to 23rd March Easter warm up period.  Some stock is out but not in key places.  The store and  window are not decorated.  Note this period will primarily see the Mothers’ Day Promotion running from 6th March to 22nd March. 
Monday 24th March to 12th April Full Easter., Decorate the whole shop.  Some shops put the emphasis on Spring so as not over expose Easter.  I have never found “subtle” to be a good approach with customers. 
3rd April to 12th April  Easter events and menus – hot cross buns all week 
13th April* Easter has disappeared like it never was 

 * some shops let Easter cover Easter Monday.  That never worked for me.  I suggest doing something different with an emphasis on a family day out, now that the “duties” of Easter are over and the family can relax. 

Measure performance  

I would recommend four major measures: 

  1. Sales in General stock and seasonal Stock (compare to budget) 
  2. Sales of promotional (Easter) stock (compare to budget) 
  3. Leftover Easter Stock (in £s – hopefully very little) 
  4. Increased footfall either with your footfall counter or new customer signings in your loyalty club 

If you are running a ‘Come Back Soon’ promotion, then also measure: 

  1. Take up of vouchers in the follow-on period  
  2. Remaining stock 

Easter stock is difficult.  One shop I know breaks up the chocolate eggs and sells it like they used to do broken biscuits in the old Grocers shops.  I tended to eat it! 

The best way is to have a Fire Sale on Easter Saturday after say 4.30 or 5pm.  Anything you get at that point saves your margin damage.  If you have a lot of stock left over, Tweet, Instagram or Facebook it.  Don’t be ashamed – make it like you are adding value for your customers. 

Ready for next year  

You are going to do Easter next year, so make good notes and have a wrap meeting with your events team.  Look back at your sales, see what worked and what didn’t, then put it away until next January. 

Send us your Inspiration Pictures and we will share them and credit your store, wherever you are.  We are all in it together against the big boys, let’s help each other out. 


Delishops Wholesale – your online marketplace for artisan food and drink products 

Source your Easter Suppliers at Delishops Wholesale – visit our website and register for your FREE account today to access small and innovative producers and importers. We stock a wide variety of unusual products that are perfect for all occasions. 


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