There are some sparks of activity within the UK greeting card industry, but as each day passes and there is no traction on the much-promised Business Interruption Loans, greeting card publishers, retailers and suppliers are becoming increasingly vexed about their business security.
One card publisher (who wished to remain anonymous), urged PG Buzz “to portray the bleakness us publishers are facing” stressing how while some retailers have agreed to pay suppliers, there are many others who are refusing to pay a penny, leaving many publishers vulnerable.
Thankfully, some retailers and small businesses have just received their grants (£10,000 or £25,000, depending on the rateable value of their premises) enabling some of this to be used to settle outstanding bills as well as go some way to making up for lost sales that will never be recovered.
“However there are some retailers who have been reticent to apply for the grants, wrongly assuming that these will need to be paid back at some point, which is not the case,” assures Amanda Fergusson, ceo of the GCA who actively joined forces with other trade associations and other bodies to take the concerns of members to government.
As agreed at a GCA Council Meeting yesterday (April 15), the association is currently working on a series of ways to provide members with advice, help and support on a number of relevant topics.
“We really feel for members at this time and are now looking at focused advice forums which will draw on the knowledge of members as well as specific expertise of affiliates to help ease the burden and see a way through this challenging time,” said Amanda.
While some retailers and card publishers have kept things ticking over through beefing up their online operations – Scribbler, for one has reported a five-fold increase from its website – notable retailers in the convenience sector (who are still able to trade) are seeing a surge in their greeting card sales.
As Darren Cave, commercial director of UKG confirmed: “The convenience channel is booming,” citing real growth in greeting card sales from the likes of One Stop and McColls as consumers minimise their trips to larger supermarkets.
Inspiring indie, Tamsin Butler, owner of Lily’s Attic in Witney, while not ‘galloping ahead’ on the retail sales side is taking lockdown in a ‘four-legged stride’.
In the run up to Easter, the resourceful lifestyle retailer was spotted personally delivering purchases on a variety of different modes of transport – including on her horse Boswell – and could also be seen zooming around on her motorbike and pedalling away on her push bike!
As a thank you to customers, she has been including some sweet treats in their carrier bags, and is encouraging them to sign up to her newsletter so that they can benefit from special offers.
“Support from my customers has been amazing!” Tamsin enthuses.
All deliveries are free in the Witney area, with customers from other locations in the UK receiving their packages from Lily’s Attic (which include greeting cards) by Royal Mail.
Top: There are a few sparks of light, but the industry is hoping that the cash starts to flow soon.