How’s Christmas Trade Doing? Northwood Cards And Penmark Share Their Festive Hunches

With us now being in the so-called ‘Golden Quarter’ for retailers, all fingers are crossed for strong, Christmas sales. It will be ‘a Christmas like no other’ as arrangements for large groups of people to be together are very much on hold, yet the craving for social interaction grows by the day, which should bode well for Christmas card sending.

Above: Some festive flavour from Northwood Cards & Gifts.
Above: Some festive flavour from Northwood Cards & Gifts.

Savita and Steve Marsh, co-owners of Northwood Cards & Gifts, Northwood and Mark Rees, managing director of Penmark, the Midlands’ based retail group, share their respective Christmas hunches; how they are approaching this year’s all-important festive season on the Christmas card front, as well as revealing their personal wishes to Santa.

Savita and Steve Marsh, co-owners of Northwood Cards & Gifts , Northwood are full of festive positivity. Hear it from them…

Above: Savita and Steve Marsh of Northwood Cards & Gifts at PG Live.
Above: Savita and Steve Marsh of Northwood Cards & Gifts at PG Live.

What is your hunch as to how your Christmas trade will pan out?

“We are sticking with all our Christmas orders and feeling positive! By presenting a full range we feel positive that business will be buoyant.

We are leaning towards predicting more cards will be sent by the public this year as people need to be in contact with those they cannot meet up with.

We already feel that the ‘shop local’ is being implemented in our small town of Northwood. We are very lucky to be in a small community with loyal customers who treasure our shop. We have felt a lot of love from all of our customers since we reopened and feel very lucky that our small business is flourishing in these difficult times, and with the added bonus of a lot of our customers working from home should bode well for Christmas trade.”

What approach have you taken to your Christmas selection this year?

“We have only tweaked one Christmas order which was purely a Christmas gift product, erring on the side of caution with something so seasonal. All of our other orders are coming in as normal and we’re feeling confident that we will have a good sell through.

Where we have had the choice of non-plastic we have chosen this option and also where we have had the option of biodegradable bags or eco-glitter we have opted for these options, however we couldn’t imagine Christmas without glitter!! Sorry, we Will have glitter!!

And of course, the nation’s new fashion accessory has been added to our product range as it is now time to add these extra necessities to our wardrobe…we’re talking of course about masks!”

How are you promoting Christmas this year?

“Being in a small town where our everyday sales are brisk and it is important that our customers can buy non-Christmas products, we haven’t gone out too early with our Christmas. However, we think we will probably be putting our Christmas displays out maybe a couple of weeks earlier this year, as a service to those customers who are worried about the uncertainties of shopping in the coming weeks.”

Above: Northwood Cards is maintaining a strong everyday selection alongside its Christmas offering.
Above: Northwood Cards is maintaining a strong everyday selection alongside its Christmas offering.

What is your personal Christmas wish?

“We wish for everyone to stay strong, to remain positive and continue to be kind to everyone in these difficult times. We have felt the love from our customers in these uncertain times and have realised what a beautiful industry we are in with everyone supporting each other through these unprecedented times.”

And now Mark Rees, managing director of the Midlands-based Penmark group is more than happy to share his views…

Above: Penmark’s Mark Rees has noted a definite early pick up of sales for Christmas cards and gifts this year.
Above: Penmark’s Mark Rees has noted a definite early pick up of sales for Christmas cards and gifts this year.

What is your hunch as to how your Christmas trade will pan out?

“People are definitely shopping for Christmas early. They are getting more organised, living in fear of a widespread second lockdown. I hope the level of sales continues; the shops have been busy. It appears that everything has shifted forward a month so it may be that October and November will be the big sales months with December less of a surge.

While there is something of a ‘shop local’ pattern, the destination shopping centres, such as Sheffield’s Meadowhall and Nottingham’s Victoria Centre are reporting footfall that is already back up to 60-80% of last year, which is also encouraging.”

Above: While Mark thinks ‘shop local’ will continue, but says footfall in destination shopping centres are doing OK.
Above: While Mark thinks ‘shop local’ will continue, but says footfall in destination shopping centres are doing OK.

What approach have you taken to your Christmas selection this year?

“While we have some of the stock we ordered, I am concerned that some suppliers might not be able to meet demand.

Our card selection this year reflects the trend of the last few years, of a move back to traditional festive looks and colours with sentiment also on the up.”

How are you promoting Christmas this year?

“We started putting out our Christmas displays at the beginning of September, but to make the most of the public’s early buying, we put out at least double the amount that we would normally. So, if a shop had 8’ of Christmas counter cards last year, this year we put out a 16’ or 24’ display.

We are holding steady on pricing this year, avoiding early discounts. It seems that customers are coming in to buy, without needing the incentive of a deal.”

What is your personal Christmas wish?

“My grandad always used to wish for one thing – good health – and that is my wish too this year, for everyone.”

Top: We are now into the all-important Golden Quarter for cardies.

 

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