But lowered footfall in major conurbations dampened sales
With Mother’s Day being such a sizeable event in the greeting card calendar there was a lot riding on this year’s second Spring Season occasion, especially after the last 24 months having been so challenging for specialists.
While far from sparkling for all, with many stores in major conurbations still suffering from a significant drop in footfall, there was plenty of positive news especially from retailers who are still lapping up the shop local love.
“Fantastic,” was how Mark Janson-Smith summed up Mother’s Day trade at his five Postmark stores in the London suburbs, “we had a great sell through and, in fact, we ran out of stock in three of our stores, but ended well up sales wise, around 10-15% on 2020 – people love to show they appreciate their mums!”
He noted an increased demand for more specific captions: “Such as ‘from someone special on Mother’s Day’ to ‘Mother-in-law’, so we’ll be looking to broaden our selection next year. I’ll also be on the lookout for more humorous Mother’s Day designs as alternatives to the more tasteful floral cards. Rosie Made A Thing and Ohh Deer performed very well for us on the humour front this Mother’s Day, but we need a greater selection!”
Jo Barber, owner of No.14 Ampthill, also had a great sell through: “We had a fabulous Mother’s Day. The lead-up was incredible and we pretty much sold out of cards. Customer spend was much higher than usual, the shop was buzzing and we had a record-breaking Saturday!”
Looking at her sales patterns, Jo experienced “a huge uplift in Mummy cards during the final week, we also sold the majority of our funny/sarcastic cards that week too, as that’s when the younger clientele and males tend to shop”.
In common with Postmark, No.14 also tracked an increased appetite for more specific captions. Jo added: “We saw a growth in Nan, Nanny, Nanna captions which are trickier to source than Grandma and Granny, but we’ll definitely be on the look-out for more of those next year.”
No.14’s best sellers came from Caroline Gardner, Molly Mae, Dandelion Stationery, Toasted Crumpet and James Ellis, with the ruder/funnier cards from Redback Cards and Brainbox Candy.
Further north Marion Flaherty, co-owner of Best Wishes in Garstang, said Mother’s Day “far exceeded expectations” ending up at least 20% up on the previous year, with very little stock left over.
She added: “It was helped by the weather being so good in the final run up, our High Street was buzzing. We had to stay open an extra hour last Saturday as the shop was so full of customers.”
Hannah Rutter, co-owner of Dee’s Cards in Leighton Buzzard, was also really pleased with their Mother’s Day sales: “Customers are so grateful to be able to come into specialist bricks-and-mortar stores after the last two years. Our Mother’s Day sales ended 5% up with IC&G, Cherry Orchard, Noel Tatt, Second Nature and Paperlink being among our bestsellers.”
Carl Dunne, co-owner of Cards & Gifts Dronfield, commented: “This Mother’s Day was amazing! We were just as busy as last year which is great as last year we were one of the lucky ones to stay open while, for this year, we had to share the trade. As a whole we just about matched last year’s takings with best sellers coming from UKG, Second Nature and Nigel Quiney – and the personalised Toblerone from Emagination was WOW! We sold so many with the Best Mum title.”
Sharing his views on footfall Stuart Delahoy, owner of Set in Leicester city centre, told PG Buzz: “We’re still suffering from a lack of footfall in the city centre. With cards it’s all about bums on seats, if you sell a card to every third person in the shop you need people in the shop, but we’ve done OK. We went early with Mother’s Day this year and sales went well with our top performers coming from Rosie Made A Thing, absolutely brilliant for mums, and a new favourite is Eleanor Bowmer, such lovely colours!”
On the multiples front, John Lewis’ Mother’s Day figures were up massively, even compared to per-pandemic levels.
“We had a terrific Mother’s Day, comparing back to 2019 on like for like phasing of dates, we finished +66% in like for like JL branches,” confirmed card buyer Claire Taylor. “With John Lewis branches sadly closed during lockdown this time last year, Waitrose had a superb season in 2021 benefiting from the additional footfall driven into shops. We were therefore extremely pleased that the trade across the Partnership finished on a positive note vs LY with retailing open again and John Lewis trading for the full event this year.”
With so many of its stores in major centres, Paperchase’s card buyer Tori Heath-Smith summed up its Mother’s Day sales as: “OK. We saw a great start with customers buying early, maybe alongside their Valentine’s Day card,) but it was disappointing to see the sales tail off, and the final week was slower than expected.”
Its best seller was the sloth design from its own-brand Innovation range, which had a £7.50 RRP, but John Procter, Scribbler co-founder, admits that knowing what to benchmark sales on these days is tricky as there have been so many different variables.
He said: “Our Mother’s Day sales ended 10% up on 2020, whatever that means, with our online sales up 40%. However, there was a scare just before Mother’s Day in 2020 so it really is difficult to make sensible comparisons but we are not back up to 2019 levels yet.
“Our central London stores are still hard work due to footfall while some of those out of the centre are doing well. I would like to think we are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel, but who knows!”
Paul Taylor, managing director of Cardzone, is with John on the sales comparison front. With so many of its stores in main town centres, Paul admits the specialist group found Mother’s Day “very challenging” largely because its customer footfall was down over 30% on 2019 levels.
“However, we have decided to no longer compare with 2019 as the world was a very different place then,” revealed Paul.
Top: Above: Some of Scribbler’s Mother’s Day cards