Greeting cards come out tops for gift indies

Annual retail research reveals indie gift shops are feeling positive about 2022

 

Greeting cards have been cited as the biggest boon to independent gift retailers’ business over the last year, with their investment in a wider card selection more beneficial than new customers or even the Shop Local trend.

The results from the recently-published annual Progressive Gifts & Home Retail Barometer, which tracks trade in independent gift retailers in 2021 compared to 2020, revealed it was a surprisingly good period on the whole for gift independents, despite having being closed until mid-April last year.

Over 90% of independent gift retailer respondents said their business had fared better or had remained on a par in 2021 (versus 2020), with the average customer spend increasing, and Christmas turning out to be a cracker.

Above: Festive cracker – the majority of Retail Barometer respondents reported a good Christmas
Above: Festive cracker – the majority of Retail Barometer respondents reported a good Christmas

In answer to the question “which main factors had a positive effect on your business in 2021”, greeting cards took the top spot, jumping up four places from the 2020 survey, with almost half of those surveyed admitting expanding their card offer had been the biggest benefit to their shop’s trade.

Concurring, Paul Cheshire, partner at gift indie &Quirky in Berkhamsted, told PG Buzz: “We’ve expanded our card display into another area of the shop and this has proved successful as customers have been buying more than one card and stockpiling cards which are unique and our cheeky cards are proving very popular. Mother’s Day sales were better than expected and our different ranges of cards seemed to be a hit with most customers.”

Above: More cards – a design from Carte Blanche
Above: More cards – a design from Carte Blanche

Attracting new customers leapt up two places to number two slot in the league table of business benefits, with Shop Local campaigns in third place, while a newcomer to the chart this year was retailers’ participation with online platforms such as Trouva, Faire and Ankorstore.

Which main factors had a positive effect on your business in 2021?

(Previous year’s position in brackets)

1 Greeting card expansion (5)

2 Upsurge of new customers (4)

3 Shop Local campaigns (2)

4= Participating with online platforms (-)

4= Promotional activity (3)

5 Product diversification (8)

6 Online/website activity (1)

7 Increased social media activity (6)

8 Collaborating with local businesses/groups (-)

9 Winning an award/media coverage (1)

10 Local competition closing down (7)

Above: Happy retailer - &Quirky has expanded its card selection
Above: Happy retailer – &Quirky has expanded its card selection

Unsurprisingly, the Omicron variant was cited as having had the biggest detrimental effect (86%) on gift indies’ trade, followed by reduced visits from reps and agents, with 30% also saying fewer trade shows due to the pandemic had been a dampener on their trade.

Meanwhile, eco-friendly and sustainable credentials continued to influence purchasing decisions, with three quarters of respondents confirming that they had expanded their ranges of more sustainable products. Made in Britain was deemed important to a whopping 91% of indie respondents. As for online trading, 70% of indies now have a transactional website, with two thirds planning to develop their website further this year.

Above: Eco-friendly – sustainability was a major focus
Above: Eco-friendly – sustainability was a major focus

As for 2022, there are high expectations, with 96% of gift indies predicting that they will see growth this year.

For the full findings of the PG&H Retail Barometer, click through to pages 15-21 in the March/April issue of Progressive Gifts & Home.

Top: Good year – PG&H’s annual Retail Barometer reveals 2021 was strong for gift indies

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