‘All is fair in love and war’ or so the proverb goes, but the lockdown restrictions have rather put paid to independent, specialist card retailers and department store retailers being able to secure their usual trade for Valentine’s Day with card sales being funnelled largely through ‘essential’ retailers who are able to trade as well as those with online platforms.
That said, all manner of independent and specialist card retailers have been showing plenty of passion for the first spring seasons event of the year, finding ways of winning the hearts, minds and pennies of their customers through various initiatives and incredibly attentive service.
The Valentine’s Day window of Swagger, an independent card and gift shop in Chipping Sodbury is full of photos and messages from customers wanting to demonstrate their love and compassion during this time of separation.
Alice Crowley, owner of Swagger told PG Buzz that despite the fact the shop is not able to open, she wanted to spread the love and cheer people up as they walked past the shop.
“We have had a fab reaction. People stop for ages to read all the messages and look at the photos. I have had lots of thank yous for making people smile on miserable days with lots of friends tagging friends on Facebook when they have spotted themselves,” says Alice. As well as raising the spirits, Alice also says that as the messages and photos are surrounded by the shop’s wares, it has also prompted people to order from the shop’s website.
“It’s a continuous fight to get people to realise we are still trading online and the supermarket isn’t the only option. We have increased our collection days and times in this week so hope we will be super busy!” said Alice.
Meanwhile up in Garstang, Marion and Mark Flaherty, owner of Best Wishes is really making its Valentine’s window work, having devised an inventive way of selling the cards while remaining within Covid guidelines.
“We have our cards displayed showing the front and also the inside verse with a ‘raffle ticket’ and price attached. Customers simply let us know which number they would like to order, via our contact-free ordering method using our newly installed intercom system. They pay contactless through the window and collect their purchase from the table outside the door,” Marion told PG Buzz. While she accepts this is not be “the most efficient way of selling cards, under the current circumstances, needs must!”
Having a foot in several camps is mitigating Scribbler’s Valentine’s Day experience this year. While its bricks and mortar standalone stores are shut, its online sales have been “through the roof,” confirmed co-founder John Procter who reports sales being 400% up on last year. And added to this are the sales from its installation in Sainsbury’s stores.
Making the most of the opportunity, both Thortful and Moonpig have invested heavily in promoting their Valentine’s online offer backing it with TV advertising with Thortful also making the most of the radio airwaves through a collaboration with Bauer Media, which owns KISS, Magic Radio and Absolute Radio.
A serious point about stalker mentions on cards
Marring an event which is intended to celebrate love and shared affection, there are some Valentine’s Day designs – those which make light of stalkers – that have rightfully come in for some high profile criticism.
Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne has led a campaign to remove any greeting cards that make ‘jokes’ about stalkers.
Talking on Women’s Hour today (February 10), as well as in other media, Katy stressed how “stalking is a crime” and trivialising it on Valentine’s Day cards is not acceptable.
She highlighted how while some online platforms, having been informed, had removed any offending designs, others still had to respond.
The recent raft of ‘stalker’ mentions on cards are thought to have stemmed from the popularity of You, a Netflix series.
Top: Part of John Lewis’ PR highlights how cards to and from pets will help to swell Valentine’s Day sales.