Looking forward to a sustainable Christmas…

Love it or loathe it, Christmas is just a matter of weeks away and many of us are already turning our minds to shopping and celebrations, or just a welcome few days off!

So too should businesses be preparing for the busiest time of year for retail, and taking advantage of people’s good spirits by pushing offers and forging new relationships.

t’s worth following what Marks and Spencer is doing to ride the crest of the festive wave. Anyone pre-ordering more than £85 worth of their Christmas food before 10th November is due for a free bottle of wine or a box of chocolates.

It’s worth bearing in mind the current zeitgeist as well. With climate campaigners Greta Thunberg and Extinction Rebellion grabbing headlines of late, their philosophy of sustainability and the environment’ reflects a growing trend in consumer attitudes to purchasing.

I wrote about this earlier in the year in my blog on learning from fast fashion. Responsibility is two-fold: from the part of the consumer in making responsible purchasing choices, and from businesses who have an obligation to source and supply responsibly.

It also makes good business sense, as aligning your goods, services and general ethos with what people really want is going to win you customers. If you’re starting a business, I would definitely recommend making this a priority from the get-go.

Earlier this year, the Fairtrade Foundation reported that almost four out of 10 consumers stated that knowing their groceries are produced without harming the environment is a top priority. Meanwhile a third of those questioned said that workers receiving a fair wage was a priority, and the same number again quoted ensuring that animals were not harmed in the production of goods.

Knowing that sustainability is what consumers are actively looking for is a tool to help you plan your Christmas offers and sales.

Get into the habit of practising green procurement, so source your supplies from manufacturers that are committed to sustainability. Buying local is an easy way to do this, or choosing materials that are recyclable or renewable. Be clear about your policies. Consumers expect clear information about your green credentials that is easy to find.

Everyone hates excess packaging, so when sending out your Christmas orders keep it minimal. Many packages include a paper receipt but why not reduce waste by just sticking to your cloud-based receipt system?

If you’re offering a free gift, why not forsake anything plastic or non-recyclable and give out plants or seeds so that your freebie can be memorable and give pleasure for more than just the festive season.

And don’t just stop at Christmas…as soon as the gifts are unwrapped and the Christmas dinner cleared away it’ll be time to start making New Year’s resolutions. So why not resolve to make your business even leaner, greener and responsive to your customers’ needs as we head into 2020?

Alex Mitchell