It was a case of holding your nerve for many retailers this Valentine’s Day, with sales mimicking the patterns that are becoming all so familiar to retailers – the late rush. “Our till was nearly on fire on Tuesday!” exclaimed Rachael Barnes, co-owner of Dragonfly Cards and Gifts in Knaresborough. “Valentine’s is always a case of holding your nerve waiting for the sales to come but this year more so than ever! There’s always some that like to choose early, mainly for husband cards but close to three quarters of our sales came either the day before or on the day itself.”
Rachael’s top picks were CBG’s Tatty Teddy and UKG’s Boofle cards, which nearly sold out and titles sold well with “Mummy, Daddy, Daughter and Son all selling out – much to our surprise. Gifts were little slower this year, with the majority opting for flowers or a meal out, so we may look to reduce our offering here next year.”
Over at Doodlebug in South Wales, owner Charlotte Little said although sales were up a very small percentage on 2017, “Valentine’s Day feels like a season that is in decline. Customers seem disinterested in the occasion and are definitely spending less on it. Female customers tend to make up the most of our advance sales whereas male customers tend to do most of their buying for the occasion on the actual day.”
Charlotte is now looking forward to Mother’s Day, which is an occasion that does particularly well within her shop. Looking further ahead to Easter, Charlotte says: “Easter is an occasion that we have virtually stopped stocking altogether. Card sales have always been extremely poor for us for Easter and we find we have no customer interest in Easter related gifts. Unfortunately it seems it’s still all about the good old chocolate egg.”
For David Robertson, managing director of the JP Pozzi and Bijou shops in Buckie and Elgin in Moray, Scotland, Valentine’s Day has become a two-day affair, with a good 13th and reasonable 14th. “I think that the small house indie publishers – Tache, Counting Stars, Rosie Made a Thing to name a few – had some fantastic product. I was and am really encouraged by what I see in terms of the designs and the bigger publishers also had and tried to do something different even though this event is traditionally hard for them to make any money on. In truth and to put it bluntly card sales were disappointing.”
He also laments a drop in gifting has taken a dive, with David saying: “I was interested to hear a survey on Radio 2 asking men and women what they wanted for Valentine’s and the traditional teddy or card were never mentioned. It was all experienced-based spa days, tickets, a meal out or in the case of ladies, flowers – even chocolate didn’t really get a mention.”
* Scribbler co/hosted a sold-out Valentine’s event on Saturday 10 February at SAMA, a bar on London’s Southbank in conjunction with dating service Playdate London, who are known for their activity-based speed dating events. People who came to the event played a number of games including competed the puns on Scribbler cards. At the event Scribbler showcased its latest Valentine’s collection and offered all daters an exclusive Scribbler Valentine’s goody bag- which included a Valentine’s mug, card and confectionary.