Mayhem Monday: Shops braced for Christmas rush

Shoppers are set to storm stores across the Capital today to snap up last-minute essentials, in what has been dubbed “Mayhem Monday”.

Monday, 22nd December 2014, 8:15 am
Richard Meadows of Great Grog, who is expecting good trade on Mayhem Monday
Richard Meadows of Great Grog, who is expecting good trade on Mayhem Monday

Both chains and independent stores were braced for the busiest food shopping day of the year, with shelves sufficiently stacked and plenty of extra staff on duty.

Almost half of shoppers said in a BBC Good Food survey they were more likely to use local or independent retailers as they seek out luxury goods to impress guests.

Philip Contini, managing director of Valvona & Crolla deli on Elm Row, revealed he had doubled his shop floor staff in an effort to cope with a flood of new customers.

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He said: “We will have about four extra pairs of hands in the team, and we are expecting it to be busy. At the moment the biggest item we are selling is cheese – that’s what’s really driving sales.

“We are selling more individual truckles of cheese and Scottish cheeses – things like Isle of Mull cheddar are doing well, as is our freshly sliced Parma ham.

“We are also selling more half bottles of port this year which is a new trend. Our ­customers are buying up – they are buying better quality. People are choosing carefully and choosing wisely.”

Richard Meadows, owner of Great Grog wine store, admitted the key to his preparation was “trying to get as much booze in as possible”.

This year’s top festive tipple is real ale, he said, with local brewers such as Stewart and Top Out from Loanhead and Alechemy – based in Livingston – being snapped up by discerning drinkers. He added: “The growth area this year has been craft ales – particularly Scottish craft ales. In my shop, 40 per cent of sales are now craft beers, whereas five years ago it was about 5 per cent.

“And prosecco is going like water, it really is. It’s massive, huge – and it’s getting bigger.

“Today and tomorrow will be the busiest days for people dropping into the shop – you would be boggled by how many people leave it until the last minute. People will still be banging on the door on Wednesday. It’s phenomenal.”

And Mark Thorne, manager of IJ Mellis cheese shop in Morningside, said the store had more stock this year than ever before and was anticipating queues out the door – with two extra staff on hand. He said: “Sales are up about 25 per cent on last year, based on last week’s performance.

“Colston Bassett Stilton is one of our big sellers – it’s a traditional Stilton and it’s lovely with port. But Isle of Mull cheddar is our number one-selling cheese.”

City supermarkets were also gearing up for a surge in last-minute custom, with local food sales set to rise by a quarter.

Colin Pearse, manager at Asda Jewel, said: “With just days to go, sales are going through the roof as our customers snap up the last minute essentials in preparation for the festivities.”

And Lindsay Clifford, branch manager at Waitrose Morningside, said: “The shelves are well stocked with all of this year’s festive must-haves, so that the Christmas food shop goes without a hitch.”