While there is still much totting up to be done by multiples and indies alike, the early indications are that Christmas 2018 was better for card stockists than the doom and gloom picture the media has been painting. Continuing a pattern of the last few years while sales of boxes and packs were more problematic, sales of single cards soared.
“It was a real cliff hanger” was how Lisa Rutherford, card buyer of John Lewis & Partners summed up its Christmas card trade, but its single Christmas card sales certainly added lots of sparkle to its festive figures, being up 17% on the year previous.
“While trade was tough we had pockets of brilliance and for us single Christmas cards fell into that camp,” revealed Lisa. “We had a record season with no discounting or multi buys to fuel sales. Family relation cards were the star of the show and became a much bigger percentage of our single card turnover than ever before,” she added, confirming that the department store’s move to extend its family relations proved very successful.
John Procter, co-owner of Scribbler admits that having braced himself for a “double digit decline” on Christmas card sales, he was “delighted to discover that we ended up on a par with the previous year. This is especially encouraging given the very disappointing run up in November.
Our Christmas Eve sales were extraordinary – up 30% on the previous year.”
Paul Taylor, managing director of Cardzone is another retailer who was pleased that its performance was better than expected. “We ended 2% up, which given the horrific 7.5% decline in footfall over the six week period we feel is a good performance,” Paul quantified, highlighting how single Christmas cards performed especially “strongly”.
Another retailer whose Christmas sales were 2% up was London-based group Postmark. Mark Janson-Smith, co-owner of the mini group admitted that while this increase is not “ground breaking” he is “more than happy with it in today’s climate” and says they lost out on a few sales at the end due to being low on stock for the last few days.
Lindsey Kleinlercher, co-owner of Between the Lines gift and card group said that the retailer had enjoyed its “best Christmas yet. Like for like we were almost 5% up and including our new stores we were 14.5% up on last year’s December.” Commenting on its Christmas cards sales, she said they “held their own like for like” showing an increase in single cards and a slight decrease in packets.
Among the indies to have shared their Christmas trade reports with PG Buzz include Louise Helyer, owner of Forget me Not and Lulu Loves of Stubbington who ended 3% up on the previous year.
Jo Sorrell of Cardies in Stevenage ended up “on par with last year” while
Amanda Oscroft of Love It in Stamford and Bury St Edmunds had a stonker
“November saw our trade up on the previous year by 10% and our card sales were brilliant. And in December our trade up by 15% and we were astonished by the card sales.”
It has not all been good news however and inevitably more disappointing reports will come out of the woodwork as time goes on.
Trish Corner, buyer of Cards Galore admitted that its Christmas sales were down this year, not helped by Christmas Eve falling on a Monday. “A lot of businesses in London finished for Christmas on the Friday before so we did miss out on some last minute Christmas Eve sales.
Paul Jarman, owner of Creased Cards in Brighton (which operates a webshop too) had a disappointing Christmas. “It looks like we will have dropped by 3% combined versus last year – and that figure is actually buoyed by our web channel improvement.”
Ros Jones, owner of Celtic Company in Welshpool experienced a 10% drop in its card sales, which she puts down to “general factors playing out on every High Street as well as us closing our card shop and merging it with our gift shop three doors down early on in the year. So, not unexpected and not unplanned for.”
Ending on a high note from the usually weather-beaten Cumbria, the gentler climes in the festive run up put more money in the till for Wishes of Cockermouth.
As Victoria Robinson, co-owner of the shop said: “We were overjoyed to see an increase in sales over Christmas. Although here in Cumbria we’re kitted out for the weather, drier weather definitely helped boost sales.”
She feels that if anything people “were spending more time than ever choosing their special cards.”
Top: A Christmas window at Forget Me Not of Stubbington.