After all the doom and gloom dished out by the media in the Christmas run-up, there were serious concerns we were in for more of a turkey than a cracker on the Christmas card front.
Here, John Lewis & Partners, Postmark and Red Card in Petworth share their Christmas trading stories.
Lisa Rutherford, partner and buyer of stationery and seasonal event of John Lewis & Partners:
Overall Verdict: “It was a real cliff hanger.”
How Did You Fare?: “While trade was tough we had pockets of brilliance and for us single Christmas cards fell into that camp.
Trade was buoyant from the start and our singles finished 17% up on the previous year. We had a record season with no discounting or multi buys to fuel sales.
Family relations were the star of the show and became a much bigger percentage of our single card turnover than ever before.
What was also very exciting was the halo effect this had on everyday cards, which also benefited from the footfall in this area.”
Changing Buying Habits: “Super Saturday was indeed ‘Super’ and the extra ‘Christmas buying day’ in the week of Christmas was significant and made for a happier ending for some of our key categories.
It does appear that there was a general slow down in the sending of multiple cards and some people really reserving their money for the more specific or special send.
Boxed cards had a slower and tougher season although there is huge evidence of a very late send with the last couple of weeks seeing a significant boost in the units versus the previous year. This is important to us because of the 25% charity contribution that we commit to on our own brand boxed cards.”
Star Performers: “Publishers who had super performances (that were well above the average) were: Belly Button, Cardmix, Caroline Gardner, Emotional Rescue, Five Dollar Shake, Hotchpotch, Louise Mulgrew, Paperlink, Portfolio and Woodmansterne.”
Mark Janson-Smith, managing director of Postmark group of five shops in London:
Overall Verdict: “Really good.”
How Did You Fare?: “We ended up around 2% up on the previous year which isn’t ground breaking, but we were more than happy with this performance in today’s climate. We could have probably fared even better as we were extremely low on stock in the last few days, but there is always that tricky balancing act having too much/too little stock and getting it just right; something we are still learning after all these years!”
Changing Buying Patterns: “We sold 361 more packs than the previous year while we sold 24 more single cards – crazy to have such a similar figure considering we sell over 16,000 single cards! That said, we could however have sold a lot more in some stores as on the 23rd and 24th December we just had a few rows left.
Rollwrap got off to a strong start, but sales slowed and we ended up selling less than the previous year.”
Star Performers: “The stand out cards for Christmas 2018 were Rosie Made a Thing’s funny cards which we re-ordered two or three times and just couldn’t keep them on the shelves for more than a few days.”
Sally Matson, owner of Red Card, Petworth:
Overall Verdict: “Much better than expected given the doom and gloom in the press.”
How Did You Fare?: “We had our best December ever, with our sales up overall by 5%.
Our card trade was terrific. I really think that our customers appreciated that we had a selection of cards that were not available everywhere.”
Changing Buying Habits: “We made notes throughout December and these show that there was a greater demand for charity Christmas card packs with a religious theme. We also sold much more red ribbon and tissue than in previous years – go figure!!
The buying spree definitely started later than usual and we had a huge run of very big days from December 16.”
Star Performers: “We sold more single Christmas cards than ever before, both relations and general. Belly Button, Dandelion, Five Dollar Shake, Forever Cards, Lola, Red Turtle Cards and Stephanie Davies were some of our key sellers.”