Some 83% of independent card retailers believe that environmental considerations have affected card buying decisions over the last year, up massively from the year previous. This is just one of the insightful findings from the recent PG Independent Retail Barometer, the annual survey into business as an independent greeting card stockist.
In addition to the impact on the consumer’s card buying habits, concerns about the environment and playing their part in sustainability of the planet have and are featuring strongly in retailer’s own business decisions this year. Up massively on the year previously, over three quarters (76%) of respondents said environmental considerations had played a part in their business decisions, compared to 61% in 2018.
At a consumer level, indies feel that concerns about the environment had impacted on the general public’s buying habits. While for 68% this change was ‘marginal’, for 15% it was considered to have ‘greatly’ impacted on that decision. While reducing the amount of plastic bags an indie card retailer came out top of the list of eco improvements in their retail businesses, the reduction of the amount of cellowrapped cards came a very close second.
Reflecting the drive for greater sustainability, when it comes to product diversification for this year, it was eco-goods that claimed top spot for the first year ever in the Retail Barometer.
Sustainability and products’ environmental credentials was a hot topic at this week’s Spring Fair which saw some significant changes to packaging, most notably in Christmas card boxes as well as substrates being used.
The Art File, Noel Tatt, Ling and GBCC were among those to be fanfaring their respective approaches to plastic-free options on Christmas boxes.
Among the retailers to have been vocal on the sustainable is John Procter, co-founder of Scribbler. As John told PG Buzz: “There has been a seismic shift in attitudes towards sustainability and global warming which are significant issues that we as an industry have to acknowledge. These attitudes will continue to impact on sales.
Our customers are increasingly aware of the damage caused, for example, by excessive packaging, cello bags and plastic gifts from China that serve no purpose.
They will simply vote with their feet. We need to take note and ensure that we try to offer sustainable products in 2020 by accelerating naked cards and reducing packaging in general.”
- Mark Janson-Smith, managing director of Postmark, which trades from four stores in London is under no illusions environmental considerations will continue to impact on customer buying habits. “And this will only continue to grow. The most noticeable being in giftwrapping. Our plain brown paper, which we had doubled in volume for Christmas, had sold out before the middle of December. We will be seeking new environmentally-friendly products for 2020, probably our biggest challenge for the coming year.”
- Angie Goosen, category manager of greeting cards, giftwrap, books and gifting for Blue Diamond group of garden centres told PG Buzz that a main focus for her buying this year is to “ensure a much higher percentage of my product across categories is plastic-free/environmentally friendly and having has much recyclable SKUs as possible.”
- Miles Robinson and Nigel Williamson, co-owners of House of Cards, group of six shops in the Home Counties highlights that in the run up top Christmas they sensed “a conscious (or semi-conscious) move towards sustainability, which we saw affect selections of rollwrap and accessories.”
- Sally Matson, owner of Red Card of Petworth is another indie who highlights a definite “change in consumer buying patterns connected to environmental concerns. Our customers want giftwrap and cards that are 100% recyclable, and gifts that are practical and purposeful. People don’t want items that are plastic or wrapped in plastic anymore. This Christmas showed a definite increase in people enquiring about which wrap was recyclable, which crackers didn’t have ‘plastic rubbish’ inside them, and which cards featured biodegradable glitter.” I think there are real gaps in the market at the moment for these environmentally-friendly products and the focus for much of my purchasing this year will be in this direction.”
Top: Environmental concerns are impacting on retailer and publisher decisions.