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A guide to preparing for Christmas in post-Covid retail

39% of UK shoppers plan to start their Christmas shopping earlier than ever… are you prepared?

Due to the current global health crisis, retail businesses are being forced to look at the festive season a little differently this year with public safety being a key concern for customers and business owners alike. 

This guide will provide information to help you make this festive period not just safe, but successful too. 

christmas retail covid guide banner

The essentials  

Start now 

Even lastminute shoppers may be forced to start their Christmas shopping earlier this year as they plan to avoid crowdsA report by the BRC states that 39% of UK shoppers plan to start their Christmas shopping in October and November this year. The ban of gatherings of more than six people will affect Christmas parties and social get-togethers, and as a knockon effect this will also result in the public planning to give gifts earlier than normal to avoid breaking the rule of six. 

John Lewis opened their online Christmas shop 10 days earlier than last year, signalling the start of the Christmas buying season. Customers online search trends saw almost double the amount of searches for ‘Christmas Decorations’ since the 16th August compared to the same period last year.

Supply chain issues have been widely reported across all areas of manufacturing due to factory and warehouse shutdowns, so it’s important to make sure all your Christmas stock orders can be fulfilled. 

Spread your deals out 

Research from the BRC also suggests only 6% of shoppers are planning to wait for Black Friday sales this year, so instead of concentrating on Black Friday, spread out your promotions and deals across the festive period. This will also keep the number of people in store at one time manageable. 

With an unsteady economy, customers will not only appreciate discounts and offers, but also may want to explore buy now, pay later options for increased affordability. Make sure any offers and payment options are well signposted, merchandised and promoted.  

Get online 

In these unprecedented times having an online presence is not optional anymore. Customers are increasingly researching their purchases before they contact a business or visit a store and half of UK shoppers plan to do more of their Christmas shopping online this year. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to have an ecommerce solution available for the customers planning to shop online. By offering drop shipping, click and collect and online inventory listing you can harness your online presence to bring customers into your shop. 

If you haven’t done so already, make sure you’re been seen by consumers search for goods you sell locally by getting your Google My Business profile sorted and setting up with a company like Pointy to effortlessly get your products listed on Google searches. Watch the video for more information.  

Make sure your business is Covidsecure 

Make sure your business has social distancing measures in place and is well stocked with hand sanitiser and PPE, to make your customers and staff feel safeVisit our coronavirus hub for resources on how to make your business Covidsecure and download your free poster to thank customers for wearing their face covering.  

Consider your merchandising so that customers don’t have to spend too long browsing the store and can find what they want and pay for it quickly. 

covid secure shopping

Christmas readiness checklist 

Get your buying in the bag

  • Check your supplier terms to make sure you’re getting the best deals.  
  • Take advantage of Christmas promotions. 
  • Buy any holiday specific products early as the shelf life is much shorter. 
  • Stock up on sundries: Pens, bags, till roll, PPE.  
  • Stock up on gift cards. 

Set up your Christmas displays and windows

  • Keep it simple and plan it first. 
  • Consider customer pathways. 
  • Make sure your signage is accurate, clear, easy to understand and appeals to shoppers. 
  • Keep a focal point in mind for any displays. 
  • Make sure your Christmas music isn’t on too loud and that there is enough variety to keep your staff from getting Christmas fatigue. 

Get staff ready 

  • Hire holiday staff if needed, bear in mind additional hours and manpower may be needed to keep your shop clean and Covidsecure. 
  • Get your Christmas rotas ready as early as possible. 
  • Offer staff incentives to keep morale high 
  • Make sure your staff are well briefed on any promotions you are running along with your Christmas returns policy and any terms and conditions. 

covid retail christmas checklist

How can Bira help? 

If you’re already a member, Bira can help you with a wide range of services and resources to prepare you for the festive trading season.  

Bira members benefit from access to their very own buying group, Bira Direct, with over 2,000 brands available with specially negotiated preferential terms, exclusive discounts and regular promotions. To make it easier for you to source your Christmas products, you can access the Winter Promotion page by clicking on the button below. 

Christmas Promotions 

Our suppliers have acted quickly to secure PPE for you and your staff. You can find out more on how to purchase these by clicking the button below. 


Bira has partnered with Social Distancing Kits for social distancing signage and solutions including floor stickers and screens. Find out more about the service by clicking on the button below. 

Social Distancing Kits 

Bira members also benefit from an extended 3month free trial with ecommerce solution EKM. Find out more by clicking the button below. 

Ecommerce Solutions 

You can watch our webinar to help improve your online presence here and read our guide on selling online here.  

For more advice on Employment Law and HR and Health and Safety over the festive period and beyond, Bira members can access free advice and support through Bira Legal. To find out more click on the button below. 

Bira Legal 

Not a Bira member?

If youre not yet a Bira member but want to take advantage of the benefits available join today for just £149+VAT. Click the button below, email or call 0800 028 0245.