Waterstones Enters The Christmas Period With Greeting Cards Performing Well

With us now being in the so-called ‘Golden Quarter’ for retailers, all fingers are crossed for strong, Christmas sales. It will be ‘a Christmas like no other’ as arrangements for large groups of people to be together are on hold, yet the craving for social interaction grows by the day, which should bode well for Christmas card sending.

Hazel Walker, senior buyer of Waterstones shares her Christmas hunches, how the book retailer is approaching this year’s all-important festive season on the Christmas card front, as well as revealing her personal wish to Santa.

What is your hunch for how Christmas card trade will be this year?

“As a business we are being a bit more cautious this year, but are still feeling positive, particularly on cards which have performed ahead of other areas throughout.  We’re expecting customers to send more cards to their loved ones than perhaps in previous years as they are less likely to be getting together in person.  For that reason we’re backing our boxed options more than singles and are planning for growth on our own brand range of charity cards.

Since re-opening our shops we have seen a pattern of stronger sales in our more ‘local’ shops and are expecting a similar trend for Christmas.”

Above: Hazel Walker, senior buyer of Waterstones is feeling positive about Christmas trade on the card front this year.
Above: Hazel Walker, senior buyer of Waterstones is feeling positive about Christmas trade on the card front this year.

What approach you have taken to your Christmas card selection, including on the environment front, this year?

“We’ve built on the success of changes we made last year and continued with boxed own brand cards rather than cello packs as these proved popular and also reduce the use of plastic – we’ve even removed the glue from the packaging of these and used a folded construction so they are now 100% plastic free!

Our wrap range consists of ‘collections’ where the customer can buy into co-ordinating items and we’ve increased the number of Kraft options as again, this is more eco.

About 20% of our single card selection bought for 2020 are cello-free.  It’s slightly more of a challenge on seasonal cards because of how we manage our stock post-season and we have therefore kept some lines in cellos to minimise damage in storage.

Following our introduction of more diverse greeting cards earlier in the year, we are also adding some Christmas cards from Afrotouch Designs to select shops and online.  There has been a really positive reaction to the everyday additions and sales have been encouraging, which demonstrates that these designs are something our customers are looking for.

We added everyday cards to our website for the first time at the beginning of lockdown and have seen a strong uptake.  As well as boxed Christmas cards which were available online last year, we’ll also be offering single Christmas cards via our website this season. Customers can now purchase their cards and wrap alongside any books or gifts, making the Waterstones website a one-stop shop catering to all their Christmas gifting needs!”

Above: Afrotouch Designs’ Christmas designs add diversity to Waterstones’ offer, in imagery and also the African fabrics used.
Above: Afrotouch Designs’ Christmas designs add diversity to Waterstones’ offer, in imagery and also the African fabrics used.

What is your personal Christmas wish?

“Apart from a successful Christmas trade and good health for all…my personal Christmas wish would be for a more travel-filled 2021 – something I am definitely missing!”

Above: On the personal front, Hazel is itching to visit foreign lands.
Above: On the personal front, Hazel is itching to visit foreign lands.

Top: Greeting cards have outperformed other product at Waterstones this year.

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