“It seems as though the world has finally realised Christmas is only a week away! I fear we will not have time to make up for a not so brilliant start but will only really be able to tell once we close the doors on Christmas Eve,” commented Miles Robinson, partner of House of Cards.
With six trading days still to go until December 25, greeting card retailers are pinning their hopes on a last minute surge – some feeling more optimistic than others that it will all come good.
“The extra weekend has given everyone a false sense of security and does give the impression you have longer to get everything done,” pointed out Mark Janson-Smith, founder of the London-based Postmark mini-group. “I am expecting the usual rush this week with customer numbers up and the focus shifting away from pack sales and moving onto singles, wrap and bags as people add the final touches to their Christmas preparations.”
For some there is some ‘catch-up’ to be done.
“Sales are lagging behind last year, I don’t know if the final push will be sufficiently strong to catch up,” Rumit Shah, director of the Card Galore chain revealed to PG Buzz yesterday (December 18).
Over in the Scribbler HQ, Jennie Procter, co-founder of the retail group summed up her feelings: “Christmas is dragging its heels thus far.” While still “hoping for a strong final week” relieved that at least the weather is reasonable, Jennie said that “a decline in footfall” has been felt throughout the group.
Continuing a changing consumer purchasing pattern of the last few years Jennie said that while its sales of packs of Christmas cards have shown a “decline on last year, sales of Christmas singles, especially humour are holding up well.”
Postmark’s Mark Janson-Smith also said that it had seen a “tiny decrease in sales of its Christmas box sales, the first time in 13 years”, but is happy that this shortfall has been outweighed by a 20% surge in sales of its Christmas singles.
Up in the Highlands of Scotland, David Robertson, of the JP Pozzi group has also scored well on upmarket single cards, gratified that his decision to cut back on ordering boxes and packs had been borne out by buying patterns.
“Special cards, both specifically captioned as well as upmarket handmade brands have done much better this year. There is a definite shift to people wanting to show they appreciate their friends,” says David.
As the recent weekend’s trading has borne out, David said “targeted promotional activity” is where it is at this year, its mailer campaigner which fanfares money off Yankee Candles as a case in point.
As Scribbler’s Jennie Procter summed up “virtually all the high street is on sale,” which has had a knock-on effect on card and gift retailers. Scribbler, among many others has discounted some of its gift lines though sales of its Scribbler own brand product selection have been holding up well. Jennie issued a word of warning to general giftware suppliers: “They need to decide whether to back retailers or not, as, by supplying a multitude of online vendors who discount their products, the playing field is anything but level.”
Six days and counting still to run and there is a lot riding on it!