“Trade is brilliant at the moment,” Mark Rees, managing director of Penmark/Henry & Co told PG Buzz. “We 25%-30% up on 2019 levels, with customers definitely shopping earlier than in previous years.”
While Mark is not anticipating this huge sales surge continuing right through to Christmas Eve, he is more than happy to enjoy this early run.
“I would rather have the money in the bank now than living in hope of playing catch up in the final run up to Christmas,” Mark commented. “My optimistic view is that we will end up around 5%-10% up on 2019 levels, which would be good.”
This year however, the company is trading from four stores under its Henry & Co retail concept (which saw it win a Retas award a few weeks ago), with its store in Heswall being the most recent to have been converted to the new look with the remaining stores set to be rebranded over the course of the coming year.
Paul and Helen Southgate, owners of Cards ‘n’ Things in Hellesdon Norwich, are also feeling buoyant about their Christmas trade this year.
“Last month was our busiest November ever! People are certainly shopping local and we have already had to order top ups! From what we’ve seen and the current footfall we are confident that the strong start will continue,” said Paul. “We just hope the weather doesn’t change and stop people coming out!”
As Helen added, the decision to invest in a refit, rebrand and product selection overhaul during lockdown has not gone unnoticed. “Customers are loving the fresh new look and we are loving the customer engagement through social media. We increased our range of gifts and made room for table browsing with products from Rachel Ellen, Scentiment Candles and Kikkerland selling very well.
Chris and Tracey Bryant, co-owners of Expressions in Swindon, Cats Whiskers in Bishops Cleeve and Polkadot in Keynsham are also reporting “very positive” trading in all three shops and are feeling “confident about our Christmas sales”.
As Chris explained: “In Expressions, where we started Christmas early, September 1 as we did last year, sales are up by 7.5%. In The Cats Whiskers and Polkadot, where we would not normally start selling Christmas until after Halloween, due to room constraints and a slow uptake by customers, this year we decided to bring it forward to 1 October which has proved to be a great success achieving significant sales in October. This has seen an average sales increase across all three shops of 15%.”
As far as early buying habits, Tracy added that while Expressions’ customers do a lot of early buying of those special double captions along with special friend, someone special, one I love etc, this year the charity packs were also well up at the early stage of the season. “We carry a large selection of charity packs from Woodmansterne, Museums and Galleries, Noel Tatt and GBCC. All are performing very well.
Cats Whiskers and Polkadot are also trading much earlier than previous years, again charity packs and boxed assortments are selling well,” adds Tracy.
This, of course is not the only good news from Chris and Tracey, as they were over the moon to win the Retas award for Best Independent Greeting Card Retailer – South West. The trophy has been taken ‘on tour’ by Chris and there is an Instagram film footage to prove it! Click on the link to see it…
Top: The Henry & Co brand is now on four Penmark stores.