Re-opening less than a week before Father’s Day, indies made up for lost time, with many reporting amazing sales levels, helped by the fact that many multiples have adopted a phased re-opening programme and some sizeable grocers have not had fully merchandised displays.
“I finished our first week relieved, confident and utterly exhausted! First day back was utterly overwhelming. My customers are so supportive and really turned out in force to support my business,” said Deborah Tingay, owner of Southbourne Cards in Bournemouth. “Father’s Day sales were positive with many customers holding back on purchasing a card till the shop re-opened. Our trade on Saturday trade was 55% up! We benefitted from very poor competition, which is not good for the overall industry so let’s hope the others start pulling their fingers out!” she added, referring to how many specialist multiples had closed shops.
Up in Lancashire, Marion and Mark Flaherty of Best Wishes in Garstang also reported a great turnout from their local customers as soon as the shop re-opened.
“The footfall’s has been really good, helped of course by Father’s Day. We have been overwhelmed by the welcome back we have received from many of our regulars, saying how glad they are to be able to buy decent cards again! It’s also been good to see new faces who are still on lockdown and don’t usually get chance to shop in their hometown. Let’s hope they like what they see and come to see us again.”
It has been a similarly positive story for Aga Gabrysiak and Richard Marsden, co-owners of Highworth Emporium, in Highworth Wiltshire, reporting “a cracking week!”, not just on Father’s Day cards, but greeting cards generally. “Cards are definitely a hot sale at the moment. Our customers were missing good quality cards, which they say very openly, so they are stocking up, spending up to £40 in one go,” stated Aga. “We almost doubled our Father’s Day card sales compared to last year, selling 603 cards this year versus 335 last year. The difference was however this year we were selling them online too, so started selling earlier meaning we had a chance to top up a few best sellers from UKG, Ling and Nigel Quiney. ”
Down in Devon, Jo Webber, who co-owns Tiverton-based Jo Amor with her husband Mike also gives Father’s Day and card sales generally a big thumbs-up. “We had a great sell through of Father’s Day cards. Our run in started with our online website which led to good sales once our doors were open. There was a definite positive upsurge on cards generally in our first week, in particular brands with positive words and strap lines that make you smile.”
Meanwhile, owners of Midlands-based Mooch in Northampton, Olney and Towcester are relishing the ‘new normal’. As Rachel Roberts, who co-owns the retail group with her husband Paul revealed: “It was a brilliant but exhausting week, where I did as much selling in the street as I did in our shop. We ripped up the rule book and we loved it!”
However, as from this Friday (June 26) almost three quarters of Card Factory’s stores will have re-opened their doors creating more competition for indies as consumers adjust to new shopping restrictions.
Card Factory, the UK’s largest specialist chain only had 89 stores trading last week, less than 10% of its whole estate. Quoted in the press Karen Hubbard, ceo of Card Factory said she was “encouraged” by trading at the stores the retailer reopened last Monday. “We expected some pent-up demand and we saw strong footfall on the high street and in retail parks,” she added.
The value retailer has now accelerated its store opening. It opened 220 more branches today and will be trading from over 700 stores by the end of the week, listing them by location on its website (https://www.cardfactory.co.uk/stores-reopening).
Top: A portion of the Father’s Day card display in Celebrations in Aylsham.