Independent card retailers have started 2020 feeling cautiously optimistic with some 42% expecting to see growth this year over last, albeit a marginal increase.
This comes on the back of 31% of indies reporting an increase in 2019 compared to the previous year. While 38% held the line, the remaining 31% experienced a drop.
These are just some of the topline results from PG’s Retail Barometer, a longstanding annual survey into the health and wealth of the independent greeting card retailer.
“The general UK retail economy, not helped by the heavy clouds of uncertainty over Brexit, drop in high street footfall exacerbated by parking issues, competition (notably from supermarkets) as well as online activity, empty shop units and costs of the Minimum Wage, business rates and rental costs all made it into the premier league of factors that had a negative effect on an indie’s business last year,” commented Jakki Brown, editor and co-owner of Progressive Greetings which instigated the annual research.
On the positive front, some 40% of respondents stated that they had been able to up the average spend with improvements on the product selection, investments in their store environments, a motivated staff as well as promotional activity as being cited as boons to business over the last year.
Independent card retailers are feeling more settled about the coming year compared to this time last year, with 42% aiming to grow their business this year – though most of these (38%) are realistic that this growth will not be significant.
On the downside, 19% are bracing themselves for a business decline, but this is an improvement on a year ago when a third were anticipating coping with a drop.
Looking further ahead to the next 10 years, encouragingly while 44% of respondents feel positive about the role of the independent card retailer, disturbingly almost a third (30%) hold the view that the future of the independent card shop is weak or very weak.
‘Challenging’ and ‘Diverse’ scored equally when asked what word indies feel best describes the UK greeting card industry today, though ‘Difficult’ was not that far behind these two descriptors.
The top five POSITIVE descriptors
Buoyant, Diverse, Resilient, Stable, Vibrant
The top five NEUTRAL descriptors
Challenging, Competitive, Flat, Static, Steady
The top five NEGATIVE descriptors
Difficult, Fading, Fragile, Harder, Weakening
Top: The piechart showing how 2019 panned out for independent card retailers.