The Industry Campaigns For Greeting Card Shops To Be Recognised as ‘Essential’

The GCA, representing the entire greeting card industry, is urging the Government to reclassify greeting card shops as ‘essential’ and allow those in England to reopen during this current lockdown.

GCA 2020 logo v.2

A letter sent this morning (November 6) from Amanda Fergusson, ceo of the GCA to Alok Sharma, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (pictured above), which makes the strong case that as greeting cards are ‘essential products’ more so now than ever before, then it stands to reason that the specialist retailers who offer the broad selection should also be classed as ‘essential’ and allowed to reopen in what is a crucial period for the whole industry.

Above: Cards Galore’s directors Rumit and Rajesh Shah appeared on BBC in July sharing the plight of city centre retailers.
Above: Cards Galore’s directors Rumit and Rajesh Shah appeared on BBC in July sharing the plight of city centre retailers.

The Greeting Card Shops are Essential campaign, initiated by Rumit Shah, director of Cards Galore yesterday morning gained immediate traction. Fellow specialist multiple retailers (including Cardzone, Cards Galore, Scribbler and Card Factory), independent buying group Cardgains (which represents 1,000 retailer rooftops) as well as many card publishers joined with GCA and Progressive Greetings in amplifying the rally call. In addition to sending the letter to Government, the GCA and several retailers’ PR teams are now making contact with the media to highlight the issue. All those in the greeting card community are now urged to get behind the campaign without delay by contacting their MPs and media contacts to push for the u-turn.

Above: Nigel Williamson, co-owner of House of Cards greeting card retail group appeared on BBC’s 6 o’clock news on Tuesday with the plea: “We need to stay open.”
Above: Nigel Williamson, co-owner of House of Cards greeting card retail group appeared on BBC’s 6 o’clock news on Tuesday with the plea: “We need to stay open.”

“It seems so wrong that our sector is being so unfairly penalised, especially given that Sage’s findings that ‘non-essential’ retailers have not contributed to the spread of the pandemic in the UK,” Amanda told PG Buzz.  She encourages everyone to use the basis of the letter below to write to their MPs, contact their local papers and the spread the message to all their contacts. “If we bombard everyone with the same message we have a much better chance of securing some media coverage and hopefully eliciting the right reaction from the Government.”

Below is the copy of the letter that was sent to the Business Secretary as well as to Paul ScullyParliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Minister for London.

‘Dear Alok Sharma

The greeting card industry is a great British success story – but it is a sector that is being unfairly penalised as a result of the current closure of non-essential shops. We strongly urge that you allow specialist card retailers to be allowed to reopen during this lockdown.

The Greeting Card Association (GCA) members represent the interests of the entire greeting card industry – from the retailers who sell the cards and the greeting card publishers who create them, to the printers and trade suppliers who manufacture them.

We believe that greeting cards are an essential product, more so now than ever before, providing a meaningful way for people to communicate with those they care about, at a time when they are not able to meet in person. We have seen a huge upturn in general card sending this year as people keep in touch with loved ones, the receiving of greeting cards have been proven to stave off the feeling of loneliness and improve mental health, vitally important in today’s climate.

Therefore, the retailers who specialise in their sale should have ‘essential retailer’ status. While greeting cards are available from the some of the retailers deemed as ‘essential’ by the latest rulings, by their nature they are generalists and do not offer the selection that a specialist card shop can in facilitating these all-important relationships. Christmas card sales are already significantly up on last year – people will continue to buy cards so allowing card shops to open will allow shoppers to spread out and shop safely. More than 90% of cards are bought in a bricks and mortar store.

Recent findings from Sage have indicated that ‘non-essential retailers’ have not contributed to the spread of the pandemic. Indeed, our retailer members have all been incredibly stringent in ensuring they create COVID-19-safe shopping environments. The majority operate from small shop units, who are easily able to keep an eye on their customers ensuring that safety guidelines are adhered.

The British sent nearly 1 billion Christmas cards in 2019. We send more cards per capita than any other nation and last year spent £1.7 billion on them last year, providing an income for many of our artists, publishers, printers as well as the retailers.

From the small independently-owned card shop in your local community to Card Factory, our largest specialist which employs up to 15,000 people, these are all retailers who are helping to spread joy, provide comfort and reinforce relationships by their selection of cards.

We, as an industry, urge you to make this a happy Christmas and allow greeting card shops to reopen without delay so that the nation can keep in touch.

Yours sincerely

Amanda Fergusson

CEO Greeting Card Association

This letter comes with the endorsement of GCA members which include greeting card publishers, based the length and breadth of the UK, trade suppliers as well as major multiple specialist retailer names (including Cards Galore, Cardzone, Clintons, Card Factory and Scribbler) and thousands of independents (including the 1,000 rooftops as represented by Cardgains).’

Above: Amanda Fergusson, ceo of the GCA has already gained a lot of interest from the media and is firming up on coverage.
Above: Amanda Fergusson, ceo of the GCA has already gained a lot of interest from the media and is firming up on coverage.

There has already been considerable media interest shown. On Monday 9 November at 5.30am BBC World Business Report, that airs just before BBC1’s Breakfast show, will be interviewing the GCA’s Amanda Fergusson.

With time being of the essence, Amanda and PG’s Jakki Brown are keen to hear of any action members of the industry have taken. Contact them on hello@gca.cards and jakkib@max-publishing.co.uk

Top: Business Minister Alok Sharma received a plea from the greeting card industry this morning.

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