The incredibly rainy weather, late timing of Easter and gravitation to supermarkets for last minute purchasing are just some of the reasons given for Father’s Day sales being somewhat ‘Daddy cool’ for many greeting card specialists this year.
“Father’s Day sales were a little flat,” summed up Mark Janson-Smith, md of the award-winning London-based Postmark group, revealing that sales in its four stores were down about 5% on last year. “The weather the week running up to Father’s Day was particularly brutal, which did not help as it impacted on footfall being down about 20%.”
However, Mark is not worrying about the dip as he says sales were still good, with Ohh Deer and Sooshichacha having especially strong designs.
John Lewis & Partners’ card buyer, Lisa Rutherford reveals that the Father’s Day card sales for the department store group were “adrift” this year, attributing the drop in sales partly down to the card displays for the occasion being put out two weeks later than in 2018 due to when Easter fell this year.
“Father’s Day was our most challenging Spring Seasons event, with all others either almost breaking even or trading nicely ahead,” said Lisa who feels it is a “real shame” that Father’s Day ended up below par for the group “particularly given that the last week’s trade we so good (up 12%) – the race to the finish line was exciting!”
For JL&P customers, “Humour and timeless classics were the stars of the show. Emotional Rescue had a very strong season as did Woodmansterne,” added Lisa.
Scribbler reveals its Father’s Day like-for-like sales were flat which John Procter, co-owner of the specialist group sees as “disappointing” given that its Valentine’s and Mother’s Day like-for-like sales were both up 10%. “Even though retailers should never blame bad weather, when comparing one specific week in the year it has to be taken into account. Without question the bad weather, especially in our northern stores, impacted sales. The increasing lack of footfall was also a major factor, but as our web sales showed significant growth so we’re not helping either!” John commented to PG Buzz. As for the buying patterns in Scribbler stores, John revealed that purchasing was “Very late, as usual, but we sold more higher priced cards than last year, thereby improving our ATV”.
A very late purchasing pattern worked in Sainsbury’s favour this year, with the supermarket revealing that its Father’s Day sales of cards and wrap/bags were up, both in value and volume.
Carly Pearson, buyer of cards and wrap for the grocer admitted that there was a final frenzy of buying. “Sales were very back-ended with 50% of purchases for the whole event coming in the last three days. All the usual captions sold well but Granddad in particular saw really good growth year on year.”
As well as its own brand designs, Carly also singled out Redback, Ling and Lucilla Lavender as having top performing designs.
On the indie front, Knaresborough’s Dragonfly Cards & Gifts’ Father’s Day sales pattern was even more extreme than that experienced by Sainsbury’s.
As Rachael Barnes, co-owner of the beacon indie revealed: “Some 60% of all our Father’s Day sales came in the last two days, which really meant we had to hold our nerve. At the beginning of the week it looked like I’d over bought, but by the end of Saturday it was definitely a different story. Anyone that says the High Street is dead just needed to look in our shop on Saturday – we couldn’t fit another person in!”
After a frantic finish Dragonfly ended up on a par with the previous year’s Father’s Day takings. As for buying tastes, Rachael feels that humorous designs increasingly have the upper hand citing Wot a Mug from Cherry Orchard, Emotional Rescue (through Carte Blanche) and Danilo (through Words ‘n’ Wishes) performing the best in this category with
IC&G “also having very strong sellers” in its Eternal wordy range and its cute Barley bear collection.
All the seasons are getting later and later – performance this year has been incredibly stable. Nothing to get excited about, but matching last year is great given the national state of the High Street/ economy,” says Rachael.
In what was her first Father’s Day as senior card buyer for Paperchase, Natalie Alexander summed it up as “a good season overall.” Contrary to the buying patterns experienced at Sainsbury’s and Dragonfly, Paperchase saw more of a steady climb. “Unlike Valentine’s Day for Father’s Day we saw the sales build gradually rather than all in the last week – although this was potentially affected by the weather,” suggests Natalie who picked out “Photographic and humour cards” as having worked particularly well for the multiple this year.
Michelle Ellingham, owner Box of Delights, in Flitwick also cites the weather as playing a part of its customers’ Father’s Day purchasing.
“Our Father’s Day sales were definitely showing signs of improvement at the beginning of June. Unfortunately due to a deluge of rain for the whole week leading up to Father’s Day this did affect footfall, so overall our sales were approximately the same as last year,” reveals Michelle. As for its customers’ buying patterns, Michelle said it kicked off with young mums with children shopping early for more specialist card captions, ie ‘like a dad’, step dad, daddy, granddad, husband etc!
“Generally most of our female customers purchase a Father’s Day card while shopping for another occasion. All others leave their purchase until the last minute on the Saturday, the day before!”
As for the star publishers for Box of Delights this year, Michelle highlights Stop the Clock, Five Dollar Shake, Wendy Jones-Blackett, Belly Button Designs, Rosie Made A Thing, Mollie Mae, Blue Eyed Sun, Paperlink, The Art File and Pigment Productions.
Among the indies who have reported an increase on the Father’s Day front are Andrea Pinder, co-owner of Unit 7 and Presentation (in Manchester and Barrowford) and Tabi Marsh of Papilio at Heritage in Thornbury.
Summing up the performance in her two stores Andrea revealed: “Father’s Day for us was up on cards and down on gifting.” She said sales of humour cards “were strong, especially from Emotional Rescue, Pigment and Paperlink.” She also pays tribute to Hallmark’s Father’s Day selection this year which “was strong for licensed and sentiment, offering something for everyone across captions including Husband, ‘like a Dad’, Stepdad, ‘Someone special, Godfather, Grandad and Great Grandad,
Words ‘n’ Wishes and UKG both also offered a selection of sentiment designs.”
Meanwhile down in the South West, Tabi Marsh was also pleased that her Father’s Day sales were up both on cards and gifts.
Tabi experienced an increase in the number of people buying a card that just said ‘Dad’ rather than a specific Father’s Day design with Louise Mulgrew and Cinnamon Aitch coming top of the pops for Father’s Day at Papilio this year.
“Following the trend from other Spring occasions, Father’s Day buying was late. The rain meant sales in the week running up to it were definitely focused on the end of the week, but it came good,” Tabi told PG Buzz.
Top: The GCA’s freely downloadable Father’s Day PoS (developed by UKG) was widely used.