‘Tough’ was the word that independent card retailers used to sum up trading in 2018, yet despite this, over a third (37%) actually managed growth, while another third held the line on the previous year’s performance.
How did your business fare in 2018, compared to 2017?
As to their expectations for 2019, while a fair chunk of indies remain cautiously optimistic, with 39% aiming for ‘marginal growth’, sadly almost a third (32%) are bracing themselves for a decline.
What are your expectations for your business in 2019?
These are just some of the insights to have come out of the PG Retail Barometer, the only annual research into the health and wealth of the independent greeting card retailer.
“We have undertaken this significant research over many years to provide a useful benchmark for retailers as well as highlight to suppliers what issues, threats and opportunities the all important independent greeting card retailer is facing”, commented Warren Lomax, joint managing director of Max Publishing, which owns Progressive Greetings.
While previous years’ Barometer surveys have been confined to Cardgains retail members, this recent one has been broadened to also include another 1,000 retailers who are not members of Cardgains.
On the competitor front, supermarkets were seen as more of a threat to an independent card retailer’s business last year, with 72% seeing them as a threat, compared to 48% who viewed Card Factory as a threat.
However, it was the general UK economy, brought down by the uncertainty over Brexit, which was an indie’s biggest dampener on business.
On the up side, investing in their shops, being active on social media, having a motivated staff and diversifying into other product areas (notably eco-goods) were seen as having brought benefits to business.
Looking specifically at greeting card categories, it was humour that topped the poll as the area that has brought the biggest increase in sales with Christmas singles taking second place.
Suppliers came in for some praise too, with indies saying that 30% had improved their service levels, but, urged respondents, don’t ditch the catalogues, with 95% saying that, despite them increasing online ordering they still want to see actual catalogues and samples.
* More findings from the PG Retail Barometer will be revealed in the soon to be published February edition of Progressive Greetings as well as on subsequent editions of PG Buzz.
Top: The PG Retail Barometer’s annual reading shows how card indies are faring.