No one quite knew how Christmas 2018 was going to pan out for greeting card stockists. For Cards Galore, it lost out on the last minute sales as so many of its shops are in the City while indies Love It and Highworth Emporium both feel they benefitted from the ‘shop local’, ‘shop indie’ campaigns.
Hear it from the horses’ mouths…
Trish Corner, buyer of Cards Galore:
How did you fare?: “Our Christmas sales were down this year.”
Mitigating circumstances: “Our sales were affected by Christmas Eve falling on a Monday as a lot of businesses in London [where a lot of the shops are based] finished for Christmas on the Friday previous so we missed out on some last minute Christmas Eve sales.”
Changing buying habits: “Captions appeared to be slower than the previous year, but these can be quite last minute for us. I think our customers were more cautious, choosing cards that have that little bit extra and appear to be better value for money.
We had a much tighter range on Christmas cellopacks and boxes but both had a good sell through.”
Amanda Oscroft, co-owner of Love It! in Bury St Edmunds and Stamford:
Overall verdict: “Very good.”
How did you fare?: “Our November trade was up on the previous year by 10% and card sales were brilliant), while our December trade was up by 15%. We were astonished by our card sales, both Christmas and non-Christmas, as the shop was bursting at seams with every occasion, relation and age card imaginable.”
Changing buying habits: “We noticed a trend towards buying a very special top-end card (paying up to £4.99, with £3.99 the most popular price point). Customers wanted a quality look and feel with a beautiful image and special message.”
Mitigating circumstances: “Good shopping weather helped the recent Christmas trade as the previous year’s snow made for challenging trading.
I do think the advertising on TV and in the press encouraging people to ‘shop local and use your high street also helped. Our towns also had a lot of pro-independent adverts/ banners and we put up ‘Use us or lose us’ signs too.”
Star performers: “Second Nature had the best selection for us, its Champagne collection (RRP £3.99) was our most successful. The beautiful range Collectable Keepsake collection also did well.”
Approach For Christmas 2019: “We will not be as cautious with our buying for Christmas 2019 as we sold out of Wife cards very early in December in 2018 and had to do two reorders to cope with demand.”
Aga Gabrysiak, co-owner of Highworth Emporium, Highworth:
Overall verdict: “Very strong”
How did you fare?: “We were up 8% overall, while our Christmas card sales were up by 22% – a pretty impressive increase. Average card price increased by 9% and we saw a 12% increase in volume.”
Changing buying habits: “The only obvious change we observed was that customers started Christmas shopping earlier.”
Mitigating circumstances: “The general emphasis and promotion of ‘shop local/support local/Support The High Street’ campaigns I think had a positive impact.”
Star performers?: “Our biggest supplier was UKG and then PopShots and Second Nature. The biggest percentage increase however we noticed was on Jonny Javelin, whose cards went down well with our traditional customer base.”
Approach for Christmas 2019: “We will not be changing our approach massively for cards for 2019, gift wise however we will again extend our high price items, especially from Gisela Graham.”