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Card sales hold up in first quarter of 2017

While overall retail sales fell by 1.4% in Q1, indie card shops buck the trend

British retail sales posted their biggest quarterly fall in seven years in the first three months of 2017, falling by 1.4%, according to the figures published by the Office for National Statistics. This is the first quarterly decline since 2013 and the biggest decline since early 2010 and show how rising prices are hitting consumer spending, and hurting economic growth.

However it is not a trend seen across all retail sectors. Independent card retailers are coming off the back of some strong spring seasons trading with many that PGBuzz spoke to reporting encouraging sales growth.

Fiona Fabien, director of Papyrus in Glasgow reports an encouraging first quarter. “Trade in the first quarter of 2017 was better than expected. Although many of our gift companies have had to increase prices we have been delighted that many of our card suppliers haven’t followed suit. Our card sales have been up 6% in the first quarter. Although Valentine’s sales were only slightly up on last year, we had excellent Mother’s Day trading figures this year, finishing 9% up on last year overall.”

Katy Sales of Supersales at last year's Retas awards
Katy Sales of Supersales at last year’s Retas awards

It’s a similar story for Retas 2016 winner Katy Sales, owner of Supersales of Nuxley Village, Belvedere. “The first quarter for us has sped past in a blur! But overall it has been a stable, solid, positive and encouraging start to the year. We are slightly up on last year, which we are happy about. Although we all moan about how disruptive three seasonal displays are to manage on the shop floor in a small space of time, it all helps to create interest from the consumers point of view. New shop layouts, new stock, fresh window displays all drive interest and sales.”

Rachael Barnes, co-owner of Dragonfly Cards and Gifts in Knaresborough also reports strong spring seasons filtering into “the first quarter of this year being  very encouraging. Sales have been strong for us for all of the spring seasons so far, the rates review went in our favour, and increasing prices don’t seem to be deterring customers.”

Read the full first quarter retail review in Viewpoints in the May issue of Progressive Greetings.

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