The Christmas period represents a real boom for a lot of businesses, especially those that are all about helping people to have a good time.
Bars and cafés experience their busiest hours over Christmas and the New Year, partly because people are so up for spending money on their social lives and partly because punters have more time on their hands to chill out and relax out of the house.
But what happens two thirds of the way into January when all of that business and excitement has died down? How do small businesses adapt to make sure people keep on going after last month’s exuberance?
The real key is to provide a comfortable atmosphere. People aren’t all that willing to part with their cash in January and lots of people go on the sort of health kick they imagine they can only keep up by staying in.
However, you can appeal to people’s sense of comfort by offering them somewhere else that is just as homely and warm as their own front room, but that’s also that much more sociable. People can give up all sorts of things as resolutions, but there’s no reason why they should give up seeing their friends or showing their face in the world.
Make your café or bar an adequate alternative to staying at home and you’ll retain at least enough business to keep you going until things pick up again.
Rugs are a central part of this strategy. Although practical things like serving a greater variety of hot drinks (think spiced apple and loads of fruit teas, instead of the usual tea and coffee) and keeping the heating at a hospitable level are very important, your décor in many ways determines how attractive it is to spend time relaxing inside.
One of the most important aspects of a homely interior is something soft underfoot. It’s impractical to have wall to wall carpets on the floor in public spaces because they get dirty and unhygienic, but rugs can be replaced and cleaned more easily, more cheaply and more comprehensively.
The kind of rugs you should choose depends entirely on the look you want to achieve. If your café is of the traditional or retro style then you can generally rely on traditional rugs, although sheepskin rugs sometimes make for a good option in little booths or cubby holes.
In a more modern café or bar, you could argue that modern rugs with contemporary patterning fit better – or perhaps plain rugs if you have chosen a more minimalistic design scheme – although such styles do rely quite heavily on lighting and atmosphere for their warmth, so don’t imagine the job’s finished once the rug’s down.
Remember to keep your rugs clean – unless you’re running something of a dive bar and cleanliness isn’t your thing – because this contributes to the home-from-home aesthetic that will keep people around. Business is bound to experience a lull but getting people in for an hour at a time to spend a few quid will soften the blow and help ward off the worst.