Most established retail bakeries have the staple products for the holidays that draw in their regular customers, but it could be time to roll out a few new items. Not only will your regular customers spend more time in the bakery talking to you about your new items, but they may try them out, mention them to friends and family or give them as gifts.

Offering specialty items for holidays benefits your store in two ways. The limited time it’s offered creates a supply and demand scenario in your favor. Second, if you offer the item for a limited time only and it doesn’t work or sell well for you, you can strike it from the menu with a minimal loss. And if it does work better than you expected, it could turn into a regular menu item that does well all year.

Christmas time gives you the best results when trying out new items in the bakery. It’s a major food holiday with plenty of indulgence shortly before people start making their New Year’s resolutions. It’s also a time when people are in spending mode and willing to buy things they’re not necessarily willing to buy the rest of the year.

For new breads during Christmas, draw in the sophisticated shopper with ethnic specialties. Ethnic dishes continue to trend and give you ample varieties to choose from based on the knowledge of your existing customer base. Usually shoppers will show the most interest in items that are the most out of the ordinary.

Swedish Solstice

Just before Christmas, on December 21, is the winter solstice. The winter solstice is the longest night of winter. After December 21, the days will a little bit longer until the summer solstice. The Swedish celebrate the winter solstice with St. Lucia buns (Lussekatt in Swedish).

St. Lucia buns are S shaped yeasted rolls, flavored with saffron and usually decorated with raisins or currants. They bake to a golden color, fill the kitchen and shop with a wonderful aroma, and taste sweet and light. Depending on your usual clientele, tweak and change anything that might serve you in presenting these to your regular customers. Also remember that when you work with an age old and foreign tradition, there might be things that certain people point out as being “wrong.” Take their suggestions kindly and then decide how to proceed in your bakery’s best interest.

French Christmas

The French top the list of fine food purveyors, and they have their specialty holiday breads just like other countries. Promote your French holiday specialties well and many customers will line up to pay higher prices for them.

Pompe à l'huile, a sweet olive oil bread, falls somewhere between focaccia and a brioche. In Provence France, it stands at the center of the Christmas food traditions. Sometimes mistaken for its cousin, gibassier (a pastry made year round), pompe à l'huile is specifically a Christmas bread in Provence.

Worth the Effort

Today’s retail bakery continues to change and evolve. Savvy and experience oriented shoppers look for new and exciting products. Offer them something special for special occasions and you might find your bakery’s next signature item.