There still remains many ongoing issues, unanswered questions and financial aid quests from those in the greeting card community. While the GCA cannot promise to have all the answers or deliver all of the wished-for solutions, financial or otherwise, Amanda Fergusson, ceo of the UK’s greeting card trade association has been putting it about a bit, in the best possible taste, of course!
“With card publishers, retail stockists and industry trade suppliers all very grateful for the Government’s furlough scheme, enabling jobs of valued employees to be protected while lightening the overhead load to help safeguard businesses in our community, the GCA officially added its support to push for extending the furlough scheme to a more flexible/part-time footing as and when the UK emerges from lockdown,” Amanda told PG Buzz. “It was good to hear chancellor Rishi Sunak confirming on ITV news yesterday evening that is figuring out the most effective way to wind down the scheme and to ease people back into work in a measured way.”
As a committee member of IRC (Independent Retail Confederation), the GCA has a direct link to Government, adding its voice to other retail-centric bodies to lobby in order to protect our sector’s interests. This includes supporting the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) for justice to be sought on insurance claims as a result Covid-19 as some insurance firms try to wriggle out of their responsibilities.
In anticipation of lockdown easing, the IRC is in the throes of developing a consumer-facing online facility which will enable members of the public to search for specific products to discover where they are available locally to them from independent retailers, whether online, for delivery, ‘click and collect’ and ultimately open as a socially-distanced trader.
The ‘find-a-shop’ element of the IRC website (https://www.indieretail.uk/find-a-shop/), which now includes ‘greeting cards’ as a search field, is the brainchild of Association of Cycling Traders’ (ACT) Mark Walmsley and Jonathan Harrison. Kicking off by loading the retailing status of ACT’s independent bicycle shops, the GCA is now urging independent retailers to get in touch to upload their respective retailing capacities onto this online resource on an ongoing basis to this link https://www.indieretail.uk/covid-19-registration/sign-up/
“For the GCA to continue to be true voice for the UK greeting card industry we need all cogs in the wheel to be engaged, and as part of this I am delighted at how our retail members continues to grow. The last week alone has seen another 17 independent retailers join us, which is wonderful. In return we, as a trade association, need to be there to anticipate their needs as a key part of our supply chain,” says Amanda.
As a part of this, while the vast majority of UK greeting card sales have historically been made via physical bricks and mortar stores, necessitated by lockdown constraints many consumers have adapted their card shopping habits by moving online.
“A strength of the UK greeting card industry has been the wealth of physical retailing emporiums, but with so many card retailers no longer able to trade physically, these retailing champions find themselves now having to embrace online channels,” highlights Amanda.
In response to this, GCA member, Simon Pryce, director of Skylight Media is to host a free (to members) webinar on Wednesday 13 May at 2.30pm entitled ‘Building your Shop’s or Business’ Community’. While aimed primarily at retailers it will also be relevant to greeting card publishers.
“This webinar will be particularly aimed at our retail members who are not already online, however it will also be useful for all members looking at reaching customers during lockdown and preparing their businesses for the future,” says Amanda.
Amanda will be emailing all GCA members next Monday (May 11) with details of how to sign up to the webinar.
The annual fee for an independent retailer to join the GCA is currently only £12. You can join online: www.greetingcardassociation.org.uk/
Top: Those were the days! A graphical depiction of a high street as used by ACTsmart, a company affiliated to the Association of Cycle Traders, one of the members of the IRC.