Fantastically festive

Santa delivers for greetings retailers as #Cardmitment boost pays off

 

The #Cardmitment campaign has proven a winner for the greetings industry as it helped Santa deliver for many retailers, brushing aside fears that Christmas would be a damp squib.

The industry got behind the campaign following the postal strikes of the year previous and continuing cost-of-living worries, and greetings stores across the country their part in ensuring the card-sending message was loud and proud – in the final part of the feature Postmark, Cardfactory, and Sincerely Yours talk about their festive delights…

Above: Bewilderbeest’s Bark The Herald Angels Sing and Portfolio’s London scene were two of Postmark’s top sellers
Above: Bewilderbeest’s Bark The Herald Angels Sing and Portfolio’s London scene were two of Postmark’s top sellers

Mark Janson-Smith, managing director of Postmark

which trades from 15 stores in London, Birmingham and Glasgow

Christmas verdict: “Refreshingly fantastic!”

Reveal all: “The Christmas trading period was particularly nerve-racking for us due to our increased number of stores, but we are blown away by the results. The new stores on the whole, traded incredibly well. Like-for-like, we ended up around 13% up for December which was a huge relief as it definitely came later than normal for us and we were tracking down for a period.

“We normally have our busiest day two Saturdays before the 24th, but had three record days in the last week. The Christmas category was around 11.5% up, mainly driven by gift wrappings. The demand for gift bags this year was huge! Card volumes were extremely flat with every department selling near on exactly the same number as 2022, but helped by higher price points, we ended around 10% up.

“Our sales of advent calendars were disappointing, but we’ve had year-on-year growth on them for quite a while so we have probably now plateaued. I feel people are looking for something a little more special from advents these days so it’s definitely something we shall be looking into.”

Above: Christmas was fantastic at Postmark
Above: Christmas was fantastic at Postmark

Star performers: “Six of our top 10 singles were from Bewilderbeest, but the number 1 spot went to a Jaz & Baz London design from Portfolio, which also claimed another two top 10 spots.

Museums & Galleries dominated our pack sales with Woodmansterne, Ohh Deer and Caroline Gardner also performing really well while Great British Card Company did well in the boxed category.”

 Hunch for 2024: “We’re super excited moving into 2024 with further product development and improvement, a handful of refits and hopefully a couple or more new stores, but nothing in the pipeline just yet!”

Above: Social media was a big part of Cardfactory’s marketing campaign with a request for shelfies – pics of Christmas card displays
Above: Social media was a big part of Cardfactory’s marketing campaign with a request for shelfies – pics of Christmas card displays

Adam Dury, coo of Cardfactory

Christmas verdict: “A strong finish.”

Reveal all: “Christmas continues to be a key trading season for us and this year customers definitely spread their spend throughout the festive period with a strong finish once the weather settled and the Christmas festivities started.

“Despite the ongoing cost-of-living impact, consumers continue to want to celebrate and look for great value which we were once again well positioned for across both cards, gifts and celebration essentials. Specifically, within card we’re pleased with the performance across our boxed and single business and the subsequent support we provide to our charity partners.”

Above: The in-house range helped Cardfactory meet its great value aims
Above: The in-house range helped Cardfactory meet its great value aims

Your approach: “We had a fully-integrated marketing campaign including our first-ever nationwide radio feature and we continually kept the #Cardmitment campaign top of mind across the entire organisation.

“Offering the customer great value for money remains a key focus and, in addition, we ensured we broadened the choice of cards to provide something for everyone from the traditional to the humorous to the contemporary while also increasing the level of diversity and inclusion throughout the ranges.”

Star performers: “We continue to see strong demand for attached gifting and celebration essentials alongside our card business and we remain focused on broadening the appeal of the overall offer.”

Hunch for 2024: “We are very conscious of the ongoing economic backdrop and will continue to offer great value for money and a quality proposition. The category remains very resilient and the consumers’ desire to celebrate gives us all a reason to be joyful!”

Above & top: Kaye Thurgood appreciated the GCA’s #Cardmitment campaign, and Ling rep Freddie Moise brought a poster
Above & top: Kaye Thurgood appreciated the GCA’s #Cardmitment campaign, and Ling rep Freddie Moise brought a poster

Kaye Thurgood, owner of Sincerely Yours in Shenfield and Hornchurch

Christmas verdict: “We’ve halted the decline in Christmas card sales!”

Reveal all: “We had an unusually wet October, November, and December which resulted in some very quiet trading days. Our Christmas sales were 12% up on 2022, but I’m certain our sales would have been even better without the adverse weather conditions.

“The big winners were single cards and luxury/high end boxes. Charity packs sold better than last year but we’re finding them a much slower seller. I think this is because they’re small and our customers are wanting bigger and better quality – it’s all about the perceived value.

“Single captioned card sales were through the roof, we reordered major titles three times from the end of November.

“I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief, as I was very anxious in January following the 2022 postal strikes. Thank you to GCA for the #Cardmitment campaign, I truly believe this made a difference. It can be very lonely as an independent retailer, so thank you to the publishers who embraced the campaign and to my fellow indies for all the support – what a community!”

Your approach: “We went out with packs and boxes at the end of September and singles mid-October, which was in response to repeated requests from customers. Early sales were stronger than in 2022 and it was apparent the second class postage messaging resonated as a lot of customers commented on it.”

Above: Five Dollar Shake was a star performer for Kaye
Above: Five Dollar Shake was a star performer for Kaye

Buying patterns: “The week of 18 December was a frenzy and 23 December was our busiest day of the year.

“The big winners in captioned were Wife and Mum – I need to increase the order for these even more for 2024, but they have to be large, high-impact luxury cards.
“We had lots of requests for specific couples’ cards like Niece & Husband, Nephew & Fiancé, Granddaughter & Boyfriend etc. We had all of these, but many sold out.

“We couldn’t sell Across The Miles captioned cards, so will completely drop this caption going forward. Sales of Friend/Friends captions were down but this was compensated by the increased sales of open luxury and humour.

“We sold more religious and traditional cards, in singles, boxes and packs. Our customers clearly wanted ‘thatmas’ as opposed to ‘thismas’!

“We found more customers bought boxes of Christmas cards this year which represents a broader reach. Overall, this is good news as it appears that, with our customers, we have halted the decline in Christmas card sales after the Royal Mail fiasco of 2022. I believe this presents a delicious opportunity to increase sales in 2024 as more people would have received cards and we can use a PR campaign with case studies.

“Also, a lot of customers commented on embracing the shop local initiative.”

Star performers: “Customers want large very special cards for family members, with UKG, Five Dollar Shake, Jonny Javelin and Words ’N’ Wishes scoring on this front. The big winners in boxes were Ling’s luxury and premium products. Our sales of single open cards were up on previous years, with Five Dollar Shake, Belly Button, and Woodmansterne performing well, as did various humorous designs.”

Hunch for 2024: “I will order more high-end luxury boxes and charity boxes rather than charity packs; more large, top-quality relations cards and more top-quality singles and humorous designs.”

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