Winter-proofing your business

Growth and strategy

8 November 2016



Winter is coming, but it doesn't mean your customers are cooling off. Summer is likely the best time for your mobile businesses, but how do you make sure business still thrives in winter?

Chilly winter months mean lower footfall and a potential slump in profits, but having a strategy to maximise your sales potential during the winter can ensure your takings remain up while the temperature is down.

Here are some tips to keep your customers delighted – no matter what the weather brings.

Think about Christmas in spring

The average turnover for Christmas market stalls is much higher than most regular markets. According to a recent study by the National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA), stallholders at Christmas markets can expect a turnover between £1000 and £3500 per day compared to the £700 standing market average. If you want to book a pitch, do it early. It's common for applications to close around April or May.

Install an awning

People will be more inclined to stay and browse if there's an awning to protect them from the rain. In a surprise shower your awning might even bring customers to you, if there's nowhere else for them to duck out of the downpour. If you own a food truck, consider putting a plastic table and chairs somewhere sheltered so that customers have a place to sit and enjoy their snack.

Seasonalise your offering

Starbucks is famous for its seasonal drinks, such as its classic pumpkin spice latte, served in distinctive red cups. Sales are generally high for Starbucks during their last quarter, so take a leaf out of their book and offer your signature product with an autumnal or Christmassy twist. Quirky festive packaging can catch the eye and boost word of mouth so try out some packaging or bags that are a little different and will work as a marketing tool. Hearty foods and tasty treats can draw in crowds from the cold. Plan deals and dishes that fit with the public’s idea of winter eating, and keep their interest by changing them regularly. Offering something outside of your usual menu with limited availability creates urgency, and discounts incentivise browsers to buy.

Bring your business to your customers

As a mobile business you're used to going where the people are, and during winter that's inside. If you own a food truck you should consider branching out into deliveries so that people can enjoy your food without leaving the office. Events catering is also a good way to expand your business, especially during Christmas party season. If you sell gifts or clothing, consider setting up an online shop on Etsy or through so that people are still able to browse your goods on their lunch break, but from the warmth of their desk.


You’re not the only one who’ll be looking to boost your bottom line during the winter months: look out for seasonal stock suppliers who may want to sell in bulk, as bargain buys could cut your costs. Businesses may also be keen to offer discounted trials if you promote their new or seasonal product.

If your focus is on boosting sales, keep an eye out for local entrepreneurs keen to open new links. For example, if you’re a bakery, café or sandwich bar you might consider corporate catering packages, or exclusive discounts for local business employees.


Improve your visibility by attending trade events. A booth at one of the Country Living Christmas shows, for example, is a great way to drum up interest in gourmet and luxury products, while local fêtes and craft fairs are ideal if you’re keen to tap into the shop local movement.

If your area lacks events, start one. Groups like Totally Locally help continue the movement in towns across the UK, and you can always piggyback on national events like Small Business Saturday to increase reach.

Food and drink is the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, contributing £21.9bn to the economy. However, the winter lull still represents a challenging period for the 96% of micro- to medium-sized businesses in the sector, and cash flow can be an issue.

Fortunately, being small also gives you the flexibility to find creative solutions, and the ideas above should help to get you started.

Don’t forget to experiment with different marketing strategies to make the most of your new idea. The skills you pick up will serve you well in the busy summer months too.

And whether you opt for events or choose to invest in new ideas and equipment, make sure that you’re covered by your retail insurance policy.