WHSmith’s strong card sales boost its Christmas figures

WHSmith’s Reading store where the new-look stationery and card department have been rolled out.
WHSmith’s Reading store where the new-look stationery and card department have been rolled out.

Greeting cards and wrap sales were singled out by WHSmith’s head honcho as having performed well in the run up to Christmas, up on the year previous.

In the retailer’s trading update (for the 20 week period up to 20 January) cards and wrap were highlighted as having performed well with good sales growth versus last year. And although total sales for the retail group were flat year on year and like-for-like sales down 1%, Stephen Clarke, Group Chief Executive commented that the Group delivered a good result “against a very successful period last year.”

The card department in the Reading store benefits greatly from the improved retail environment.
The card department in the Reading store benefits greatly from the improved retail environment.

Stephen commented: “High Street sales were in line with expectations. Our stationery and seasonal ranges, including cards and wrap, performed well with good sales growth versus last year. Book sales were more challenging due to the decline in spoof humour titles and no new, big publishing trends.”

In High Street, total sales were down 5% with like-for-like sales down 4%, in line with expectations. Total sales in Travel were up 7% with like-for-like sales up 3%.

A neon sign shows WHSmith’s love of stationery.
A neon sign shows WHSmith’s love of stationery.

WH Smith continues to invest in cards and stationery as its new-look Reading store shows. The stationery department has been given a funky facelift with neon signage and multi-level tables for display purposes instead of the harsher metal fixtures, providing a more boutique feel and encourages pick up. The large greeting card department features lowered height card displays and improved lighting which has altered customers’ perceptions. “Customers think that we have more cards on show, but it is because the whole in-store environment is so much better that it encourages people to browse,” says Claire Castle, senior greeting card buyer of WHSmith’s High Street division.

WHSmith’s senior card buyer Claire Castle (left) with colleague Rachel Hevicon, card buyer for the retailer’s travel division at last summer’s Retas.
WHSmith’s senior card buyer Claire Castle (left) with colleague Rachel Hevicon, card buyer for the retailer’s travel division at last summer’s Retas.

“We have always done well with cards in this store, but the new store environment makes it more enjoyable for our existing greeting card customers as well as encouraging new younger customers to the displays, something that is reflected in the sales patterns,” says Claire.

 

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