In the first of a series leading retailers reveal how Christmas trade stacked up in the end, what strategy they adopted as well as their hunch for 2022.
Today, PG Buzz hears from John Procter, co-owner of Scribbler (which trades from 35 stores as well as online) as well as Miles Robinson and Nigel Williamson, co-owners of House of Cards, the Home Counties group of seven specialist stores.
John Procter, co-owner of Scribbler…
Verdict: “Surprisingly satisfactory.”
Spill the beans: “We ended up pretty much where we had predicted – we sold around the same amount of stock as we did in 2019, the last normal year.
We saw a huge surge in creatives uploading Christmas designs to our online marketplace, so much so that we had to turn off that facility, but online sales were strong.
Our main bugbear was our London stores, where roughly a third of shops are based. When Omicron hit, footfall took a dive, meaning that those stores ended up around 20%-30% down on 2019 levels.
Logistics also caused real problems, some deliveries took four times longer to arrive, resulting in some stock going in very late, which was not ideal.”
Your strategy: “We put our Christmas products out a week/10 days earlier than in previous years, but I am unsure it had any effect on sales.”
Top performers: “There was even more of a demand than usual for the edgier, cheeky designs for which Scribbler is known; anything to put a smile on people’s faces!”
Your hunch and approach for 2022: “I’m feeling pretty confident about 2022; I can only see it being better than last year. I feel we are on for a strong Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day and after that hopefully things will be back on an even keel. Just need the government to sort out a business rates reform!”
Miles Robinson and Nigel Williamson, co-owners of House of Cards, seven shops in the Home Counties
Verdict: “A good un, that’s for sure!”
Spill the beans: “We ended up +40% on Christmas last year, but then we do have an extra store. We were up 12.3% like-for-like on 2019 (excluding our online trade), so we are not unhappy! Certainly, Christmas boxes, all wrappings (rollwrap, bags and tags), saw massive increases. We definitely benefitted from the ongoing shop local trend as well as supply chain issues among our competition. There was certainly a feeling that some retailers got cold feet and some left stock in China as it was not viable to ship!”
Your strategy: “We put out our Christmas displays a little earlier where we could but had to do a lot a remerchandising as product came in late/ in dribs and drabs.”
A sustainable Christmas? “We actually didn’t notice any particular shift on the environmental front, but I think it was a blip in that the consumer was so happy to just have a Christmas that everything else went out of the window! This year will be different in that respect I think.”
Your hunch and approach for 2022: “Certainly positive going into 2022 and buying will be as usual, but more of it and with an eye on packaging/eco etc.”
Top: House of Cards’ Woodley branch, which opened in 2021, had a great first Christmas.