The web shift for the sale of Easter chocolates

While it is true that the COVID-19 pandemic will not allow people to gather for Easter this weekend, there will be no restrictions prohibiting the tasting of chocolate. Talk to two chocolate factories in the Outaouais, for whom the impact of the crisis differs during this period, which normally turns out to be very lucrative.
C hez Rochef Chocolatier, if we concede that the overall turnover of Easter will decline compared to previous years, we add by saying that it is literally “madness” for online sales in recent weeks. So much so that at the start of the week, for 48 hours, there was a shortage of stock and the whole team was busy preparing orders and delivery.

In the space of five days, more than 750 orders have been received by the Gatineau company.

“We are overthrown in a certain way, and this in a positive way. Yes, we are talking about a good drop of 40%, our own store was closed the day before the announcement by Mr. Legault of the complete closure of non-essential businesses. There are also several stores that offer our products that are closed. […] We obviously turned to the web, where normally it is not there that is the most business, and since then, it’s madness. We sell 50% more compared to other years. Evening teams must be brought in. We are super happy despite everything, because we were expecting a disaster, ”said Alain Fredette, president and co-owner.

In the circumstances, Rochef, which celebrated its decade of existence last year, did not have to make temporary layoffs among its 15 employees.

“We never thought of spending an Easter period like this. It’s incredible, the phone does not hang up. We even wanted to add telephone lines. What we find extraordinary is that for the past few years, we have been wondering why we had a little trouble making ourselves known in our own backyard, in Outaouais. We sell elsewhere in Quebec, Ontario, a little in the United States, in Western Canada and even in Mexico, but we thought that we could perhaps do a better job in the region. But here, we have proof that we are doing a good job. We have good support from the local population, ”said the businessman.

Whoever teams up with Roch Fournier does not hide the fact that after Easter, adrenaline will drop and there will inevitably be ” damage control ” to do, as with many local businesses. But he believes that the Quebec government’s call for local purchase has resounded and that there will be a before and after the crisis in this area.

“We will have to maintain this course. People who don’t tend to go back to buying locally will be motivated by others. I think these are habits that will remain, even if it will not be 100%. You often just have to explain to people the benefits of consuming locally, otherwise they say yes, but five minutes later they forgot, ”he says.

In addition, Rochef is also known for selling its chocolates in Costco stores at this time of the year. In this regard, Mr. Fredette maintains that given the crisis, the giant will be able to sell about 65% of the merchandise that he had planned to sell. Rochef also stopped its deliveries to these stores.

Another bell sound

For Easter, the sound of the bell is not quite the same for Chocomotive, which has been in business for a decade in Montebello.

“Online sales were already in our plans, but we wanted to start after Easter, because for a product like chocolate, people like to shop with their eyes, there are hundreds of different casts. Finally, we got into it a bit urgently and there is a good answer. Except that with deliveries, it takes three times more work for the same income. We can also direct customers to our distributors, for example pharmacies or delicatessens still open, but it’s 35% less profit, “says Luc Gielen, co-owner of the artisanal chocolate factory with his spouse Mabel Calles.

The latter estimates that in comparison with last year, turnover for the Easter period will be down by as much as 85%. Not to mention that the business is located in a tourist sector and that, due to the pandemic, it was deprived of the income normally generated by the visit of hundreds of families during the school break in Ontario. Year after year, many of them make a detour through the village before or after a trip to the Omega park.

The streets being deserted, Mr. Gielen decided to temporarily close the doors of the store.

“Points of sale such as the Cheese Trap or Fidélice must return approximately 50% of their orders to us. We’re going to get stuck with a ton of processed chocolates. We get used to this situation, we have no choice. On the other hand, for us, July and August are very important months in the tourist area, that represents 20% of the annual turnover. So we will have to be at the end of the crisis, otherwise it will be dramatic, ”he said.

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