Sarah Green is the co-owner of High Tide (pictured above) in the Suffolk coastal town of Southwold and Wave in the nearby market town of Bungay.
“I am definitely seeing a ‘tale of two cities’. While people are flocking to Southwold and trade has been good in High Tide. Bungay, (where Wave is based), like many market towns, is seeing subdued footfall and little enthusiasm for shopping,” reveals Sarah.
Looking back over last three months since re-opening of the shops, Sarah recounts that her trade kicked off with “a definite bingeing on card buying as naturally everyone had used up all their stock during lockdown. People seemed genuinely pleased to be able to buy quality cards again and they were buying them by the handful. Customers were really impressed with the topical coronavirus-related ranges, notably from Rosie Made A Thing and Woodmansterne published. Hats off to those suppliers for turning them around so quickly!”
Sarah also applauds Rosie for her activity on social media during lockdown, which has resulted in extra sales for her. “Rosie is gaining a strong cult status, fuelled by the fantastic content she put out on social media during lockdown. Customers recognise her cards and many of them mentioned they had seen her posts on Facebook and Instagram.”
Following on from the binge buying bonanza, Sarah says “Things seem to have levelled off now with card sales. People have restocked and I think the novelty of being able to shop has worn off – especially since the wearing of masks is compulsory. Humour has definitely been the top genre for sales, people are wanting something funny.”
Sarah pays tribute to Jellycat. “The sales of Jellycat products have been phenomenal. Every day Jellycat is our top supplier in terms of percentage of turnover – its products clearly fulfil people’s wish for something comforting, cheerful, frivolous and fun. I was worried when we reopened that I was stock heavy as I had a big Jellycat delivery just before lockdown, including lots of Easter bunnies and chicks. I needn’t have worried though as I have just re-ordered for the third time since we reopened!”
One notable change in buying behaviour has been the increase in self-purchasing. Sarah believes this has been driven by “Customers feeling they deserve a treat after months of being deprived the chance to shop. Sadly, I have had a few customers trying to cheer themselves up with a purchase having been made redundant and I fear there is much more of this to come.”
Here, Sarah shares some of the greeting card ranges and other products that have been selling well in her shops…
“The Emma Bridgewater designs do especially well.”
The Stephanie Lambourn and Chris Williamson ranges from Green Pebble and the Angela Harding collection from Art Angels
“These artists’ work based on Suffolk scenes are popular.”
Stop the Clock and Woodmansterne’s Quentin Blake collection
Jellycat plush and Star Editions’ Southwold range
“Our Jellycat sales are just phenomenal!”
Relations and Occasions
“I put in a big order at Spring Fair and they have sold well.”
Rosie Made A Thing’s Gin & Frolics and Hysterical Histories from Woodmansterne
“Rosie has kept us all going during and post lockdown!”
Emma Ball’s homewares as well as mugs from WPL and Mclaggan Smith
“There have been a lot of mugs bought to show on Zoom calls.”
Top: High Tide in Southwold. The coastal town is always a beacon in the summer, this year especially so.