Independent vs supermarket wars - this time it's personal

High street fights back with an individual approach to Christmas sales

Independent drinks retailers say they are looking at alternative ways to survive against the aggressive pricing set by supermarkets this Christmas.

Last week, Tesco BWS boss Dan Jago told OLN to expect promotional activity to be more aggressive than last year "across the board". He said: "It's proving

a very competitive market and customers are getting a very good deal."

The big four supermarkets - Tesco , Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury's - have already started their Christmas price wars, with


including 60 28.4cl bottles of Stella Artois for £20 at Asda and wine for £2.53 per bottle at Morrisons when buying six.

Smaller retailers have said they can't slash prices to match those of the supermarkets, so

loyalty schemes, unusual products and gift wrapping are just some of the ways they are hoping to keep trade during the festive season.

Denise Miles, of Clarkson's Off-licence in Selsey, West Sussex, introduced a loyalty card scheme at the beginning of the month to encourage more trade in the run-up to Christmas. A card is stamped for every £10 spen t and

when 10 stamps are collected, customers are given £3 off their next purchase.

She said: "It's giving something back and we are trying to raise people's spend a bit. We just haven't got a chance against the supermarkets, but we have to do something. The wholesalers are putting out spirits from Diageo at £9.99, but if we sell them at that price like the supermarkets we make no money."

Julie Wyllie will experience her first Christmas at her shop, Liquid Treasure in Belper, Derbyshire, this year and is hoping her

unusual stock will appeal to customers looking for Christmas gifts.

"I went round my local supermarket

and thought 'look at all this discounting'. There's just no hope of me competing on price, so it's carry on as normal as far as that's concerned. What I am going to do is offer a gift-wrapping service so that people can go out with a smart purchase. It's about giving the personal touch. The supermarkets can't do that."