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Early Christmas Buying Patterns, But Stock Issues Loom Large

The Christmas countdown has begun in earnest with many greeting card retailers reporting encouraging early buying patterns prompted by the media scares of shortages.

However, frustrated by order shortfalls and delivery delays many indies are holding their nerves, enjoying the early ringing in the tills.

“Trading has been very positive in all three of our shops and I feel confident about our Christmas sales,” said Chris Bryant, who co-owns Expressions in Swindon, Cats Whiskers in Bishops Cleeve and Polkadot in Keynsham with his wife Tracey. Their decision to bring forward their Christmas displays in all three shops has brought significant benefits, with sales up overall in October by 15%.

Above: Plenty of festive cheer in Expressions, Cats Whiskers and Polkadot.
Above: Plenty of festive cheer in Expressions, Cats Whiskers and Polkadot.

Anne Anderson, owner of Paprika in Chippenham and Bath is also feeling buoyant about her festive business: “Our Christmas trade is shaping up well. People are definitely starting early this year which is great. I am hoping bricks and mortar will be the way to go this year. I do feel people have just missed the joy of a well-presented shop and the help of good staff.”

Down in Devon Maggie Wynn, owner of Just Cards in Honiton is another who is enjoying an earlier sales blast.

Above: The Just Cards windows are festooned with Christmas cards.
Above: The Just Cards windows are festooned with Christmas cards.

“Here we go again! Christmas has definitely arrived early this year in Just Cards. I think the media has pushed Christmas forward with all the news of shortages and shelves being empty. I think this has made the public want to buy early just in case they can’t get it later, so sales have been good.

The weather and Government permitting I feel we will have a very busy Christmas.”

While the media coverage about shortages of stock has inspired the public to go Christmas shopping, supply issues have been and are likely to continue to be a major headache for card retailers in this ‘Golden Quarter’.

“If all my stock arrives, I will feel a lot happier about Christmas!” stated Hayley Bastable, owner of HBB Cards in Newport Pagnell. “It has been a frustrating and worrying time as since the beginning of September I have been concerned with the delays in Christmas stock arriving. Despite ordering it at the beginning of the year my main Christmas card supplier only delivered my order in the third week of October, which was very late!  Thankfully many of my other card publishers have enabled me to put on a good display in the interim but I was very relieved to finally have my main Christmas display out by the end of October. So, I’m looking forward to a busy November, fingers crossed!”

As Anne Anderson summed up: “The supply issues we are facing means the message to customers is clear: “Buy it now as we cannot guarantee more stock will be available before Christmas”.

Above: Paprika is encouraging its customers to buy early!
Above: Paprika is encouraging its customers to buy early!

Top: Part of the Christmas display in Just Cards, Honiton.

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