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      • Switch on to local Christmas events and reap the rewards

      • The end of November is nigh. The weekend brings December, dancing excitedly like a child told that it’s NEARLY time to open the presents. Love it or loathe it, the coming month is a busy period for coffee shops everywhere. But there’s always competition, right? So, how do you attract more customers to your coffee shop than any festive season before? 

        The key is community. As the countdown to Christmas continues, the shops around you will typically enjoy more footfall than the rest of the year; you might draw the dividends, but that’s a pretty passive approach to winning new business. The key is community. Making sure your coffee shop – or van, or cart, if you own a mobile coffee business – is always open and wafting warmth and seductive scents whenever seasonal events take place. Follow that star, and your espresso machine should see some serious action.

        What seasonal events should your coffee shop stay open for? 

        If you don’t already exploit the opportunities offered by local events happening outside of your usually opening hours, prepare to put in a few late nights in the coming weeks. Of course, the bigger your town (or city), the more opportunities you’ll find. However, if you’re situated in a smaller village, don’t let that deter you. It’s the perfect opportunity for you to host new events, specific to your business, whilst simultaneously adding to the local community spirit!

        In general, though, these are the occasions we recommend keeping your coffee shop open late for:

        • Christmas light switch-ons
        • Christmas concerts and carol services – at your local churches and any held in public squares or marketplaces
        • Christmas markets – many towns run special arts, crafts or simply Christmas-themed markets during December, sometimes beyond usual trading hours
        • Late-night shopping days – Thursday tends to be the most popular day
        • Pantomimes and plays – this time of year sees more theatrical performances and even public readings at local libraries. 

        Take a stroll down your high street at 6:30pm and you’ll probably find the big coffee chain stores are still open, even when the town is dead. Sure, they’ve got the manpower, the buying power, the marketing power… and you’re bushed, but independent coffee shops have usually shut between 5 and 5:30pm. There’s a hardcore of loyal chain customers you’ll never win over, but without being creative and using your initiative, the challenge is even harder.

        So, when the Christmas market hits your town, get out there amongst the traders and shoppers, offering tasters of coffee and cake. When there’s a concert or a service, keep carollers’ hands and hearts warm with fresh coffee. Take photos and share them not just on your own coffee shop Instagram and Facebook pages, but on Facebook community pages too. Demonstrate that you and your business are at the heart of everything your town has to offer!

        And it’s not too late to host a Christmas wreath-making workshop in your shop, to take part in Christmas Jumper Day to do some good, or to make your coffee shop a drop-off place for donations to the homeless and to offer free coffee for those in need. Because at this time more than ever, community will be what makes the difference.