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Last-minute magic for dads

Retailers try hard but Saturday’s sales make it count in build-up to Father’s Day


Despite all the planning in advance for Father’s Day, retailers say the Saturday before is always where the magic happens – but admit the spend is still way behind that for mums.

And, in the second part of the PG Buzz look at how the latest data confirms the big day for dads is expected to reach £694million this year against the £1.7bn spent on Mother’s Day, indies agree it’s a difficult one.

Above & top: Chirpy has gift bundles which Jo McBeath has been posting to customers
Above & top: Chirpy has gift bundles which Jo McBeath has been posting to customers

Following the research from GlobalData saying most retailers start their marketing of Father’s Day card and gift options too close to the big day, which is coming up on Sunday, 16 June, many pointed out they’ve been trying harder this year.

But Jo McBeath, of Chirpy in Chapel Allerton, commented: “No matter how far in advance we plan for Father’s Day, the Saturday before has always proved to be the busiest and I don’t expect this year to be any different!”

Tash Van Boxel, retail analyst at GlobalData, said the company’s May survey of 2,000 respondents showed that 40% of consumers agree they find it hard to buy the right thing for their loved ones for Father’s Day and a further 40% agree retailers do not do enough to provide gift inspiration for the occasion, and she concluded: “Retailers have their work cut out to bolster gift spend this year. Retailers can combat this uncertainty by increasing advertising around the occasion, showcasing their range of affordable gifts.

“Most retailers do not market Father’s Day gifting and card options until close to the occasion, meaning consumers are unlikely to start spending early and spread the cost or indeed be encouraged to pick up small add-ons that can quickly mount up to a larger spend on the event.”

Jo responded: “This year we got our Father’s Day cards out in the shop and online earlier than previous years. We’ve also increased our range and repositioned them in the shop, as we did with our Mother’s Day cards, which led to more MD cards sales.

Above: There’s a wide range of cards at Chirpy
Above: There’s a wide range of cards at Chirpy

“As for gifts, this is always a bit of an issue as I find it difficult to source good, value-for-money gifts for men which they will actually use. Unlike for women, where you can find a lovely pair of earrings for example for £10-£20, iIreally struggle to find gifts which aren’t gimmicky for men.

“We have a Father’s Day section online which includes things like mugs, planters, stationery and prints. We also have a great range of bamboo socks which always prove popular. Traditionally I find that, when children come into the shop with their mums, they spend less than if children come in with their dads.

“We have gift bundles all year round but this year I’ve created some for Father’s Day at the £10/£15 price point which I’m hoping might prove popular.”

At Lark London’s 16 stores co-owner Priya Aurora-Crowe explained that she markets Father’s Day for four weeks before the event, compared to a six-week run-in for mums, and added: “We implement a Father’s Day table matched with suitable giftware lines.”

Above: Full on Father’s Day at In Heaven At Home
Above: Full-on Father’s Day at In Heaven At Home

As one of the retailers who’s noticed that dads bring their children out shopping to choose cards and gifts for their mothers, but busy mums often grab a Father’s Day card as they dash around, to hand to the kids to write, In Heaven At Home’s Anne Barber sees there’s a distinct disadvantage for the men.

From her Market Harborough indie, Anne told PG Buzz: “I totally agree retail spend is less than half for Father’s Day than it is for Mother’s Day and it’s such a shame that fathers are not shown the same love and appreciation as mothers.

“Mums seem to receive a card and flowers, a gift and some chocolates, breakfast in bed and maybe a family meal out too. Dads are lucky to get a card! We’ve had an in-store Father’s Day display of cards and gifts for 3 weeks now and, to be honest, sold very little. Last week we completed a full window display for Father’s Day and it features in our social media.

“This year we have a lot more gifts including handkerchiefs, ties and socks, cufflinks, mugs, notebooks, wash bags, wallets, soaps, etc – definitely our biggest selection yet of gifts, and cards too.

“We’re ready and waiting but rather expect a last-minute rush in the few days before!”

Above: Personalised Toblerones are a hit at Cards ’N’ Things
Above: Personalised Toblerones are a hit at Cards ’N’ Things

With a dedicated room for spring seasons and events such as exam congrats and weddings, at Cards ’N’ Things in Hellesdon co-owner Paul Southgate said: “We may be the exception! We’ve had our Father’s Day cards on display since from after Easter so a good couple of months now, together with gifting tables.

“We have our window display out with four weeks to go and start to ramp up the social media campaign.

“Sales are about 30% less than Mother’s Day but I don’t believe this is down to not marketing it enough – we put in as much effort in as all the other seasons in terms of driving sales. Sales of Father’s Day trickle along until the last week or two but we significantly increase our sales with the various gifts alongside our card range.

“Gifting highlights include Kikkerland, personalised Toblerones, Carte Blanche gifting and books from Bookspeed. These have been a great addition and already popular for male gifts with titles such as Norfolk Dog Walks, Camping Cookbooks, Gardening and, of course, dad joke books!”

Above: Woodmansterne, Emotional Rescue, Paperlink and Glick are good sellers at House of Cards
Above: Woodmansterne, Emotional Rescue, Paperlink and Glick are good sellers at House of Cards

At his seven shops in the Home Counties, House of Cards co-owner Nigel Williamson has seen that sales for dads are “a bit more than half” that of Mother’s Day, and he added: “It’s an important season that we promote.

Woodmansterne have always been strong for this season, and humorous FD cards have also been good sellers with Emotional Rescue coming up with the winners, and Paperlink have some great selling designs. Glick do some lovely Paper Salad dad gift bags that add to the offering and it helps with the display instore.”

David Robertson has a pop-up area for the event at Pozzi-Bijou in Buckie, and said: “Mother’s Day is a lot more considered purchase and our displays for it in cards and gifting are much larger – spend, as has been rightly said, on us dads is a little less!

Above & top: A pop-up shop at Pozzi with sweetie cones and bespoke Buckie Thistle socks
Above & top: A pop-up shop at Pozzi with sweetie cones and bespoke Buckie Thistle socks

“New product wise we have the football range from White Cotton Cards where we have the bespoke Buckie Thistle socks, keyrings, etc, and in addition we created a sweet carousel which is basically a funky package made up of the dad’s favourites sweets. We have also done a quirky cone using wrapping paper as an affordable gift for youngsters.”

And the tradition of the last-minute purchase holds true north of the border although there’s a good reason in the Moray Firth area for some earlier sales, as David explained: “Father’s Day cards as always are just steady until basically two days before, it’s those last couple of days where things really start motoring – it tends to be that our early sales fall when dads and grandads are heading away to the oil rigs.”

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