“So many holidays have been cancelled; so many events have been postponed, but Covid or no Covid, Christmas will definitely happen – and after everything we have all been through, we will want to make it one to remember. Sending Christmas cards will be part of that, so we as an industry should make the most of that,” believes Sonya Haandrikman-Sibald, co-owner of Celebrations, Carlisle. Sonya is among the greeting card retailers who have taken the decision to bring forward the installation of their Christmas card displays this year, for a number of reasons.
The changing shopping patterns, due to the pandemic with fewer shopping trips as well as fear of the second spike encouraging people to stock up while they can has led to Christmas displays being brought forward.
“We put 20’ of our Christmas singles, 4’ of boxes/packs and 4’ Christmas gifts out at the beginning of August. We would normally put out our first Christmas plan out at the start of September (with additional displays in early October and early November, gradually increasing the offering as it gets closer to Christmas), but this year we certainly felt it should go out earlier, entirely due to COVID-19. There is certainly an underlying anxiety within the community of a second spike, and people have been stocking up while they feel they can, not just on Christmas, but across the board.”
While Sonya admits that the feedback from some customers has been “OMG! Christmas!” but says that for many “having the time and physical space to peruse the offering before the manic Christmas rush has been a primary factor for buying early. Since we have put out the first Christmas plan, it has been selling well. Christmas is certainly helping people to have hope and to give them something to look forward to.”
IC&G is among the publishers to feature in Celebrations’ Christmas display. Tony Roberts, director of sales of the Dorset-based publisher said that it was well prepared for early Christmas stocking, keeping its in-house printing presses busy during lockdown produce its entire Christmas card collection of 400 single counter cards.
“As we had manufactured our Christmas cards, we made it available to our retail customers early, with no change to the payment terms, so they will not need to pay until December. We have had a great reaction and shipped out over £125, 000 worth of Christmas stock in July alone,” Tony told PG Buzz.
As Simon Wagstaff, joint managing director of IC&G added: “None of us know what is going to happen with regards to the pandemic, but with so many of our retail customers making the most of the ‘shopping local’ habit, it makes sense for them to put out some Christmas cards early if they have space.”
Sue Rodgers, who co-owns More Than Just Cards, in Sheffield’s Chapeltown with her husband Mike, is among the IC&G customers to have taken up the option to have its Christmas stock delivered early and has already put a selection on display, and they are selling.
“As the IC&G Christmas cards arrived at the end of July and we had some from Jonny Javelin, we decided to try putting out an initial 4’ display for customers, using the space we usually dedicate to wedding cards, but as there are hardly any weddings, there is no demand for these cards right now,” explains Sue. “Even though these Christmas cards are not in a prominent position, and we are not pushing them, we have sold some. Customers are definitely buying cards much more advance than pre-lockdown, and this will probably continue through to Christmas,” adds Sue.
Paul and James Taylor, md and trading director of Cardzone also believe that there is merit in the industry working together to promote buying Christmas cards early to consumers.
“The High Street typically does not launch Christmas until the beginning of October, but we are planning to put our Christmas cards out earlier this year to encourage consumers to buy earlier,” said James. As Paul adds “people are making fewer shopping trips, but are spending more when they do come in, planning ahead. Everyone wants and needs a good Christmas and we as an industry have an important part to play in this.”
Top: Remember what it likes to feel cold? Christmas will be here before you know it!