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Romance Is Not Dead Last minute sales for Valentine’s Day Retailers’ pulses were racing as they totted up their Valentine’s Day card sales with an exceedingly high percentage of purchases being made in the last few days. Among those to have been delighted by the performance of the first Spring Seasons event of 2019 was Scribbler, who revealed that its Valentine’s Day card sales were 9% up on the previous year. “Valentine’s was very successful for us,” commented John Procter, coowner of Scribbler. He cites the retailer’s own brand selection as a major reason for this stunning performance as well as an extended space allocation. Echoing the views held by many that Cupid’s arrow was pointing in the right direction for a good start to the Spring Seasons events, independent retailer, Debbie Davis, owner of Cherry Cards in Upminster, Essex, summed up: “I do think us traders struck lucky with Valentine’s this year. The event fell on a Thursday, it wasn’t in the half-term
Below: Upminster’s Cherry Orchard wholeheartedly embraced Valentine’s Day - it was the right colour for it! Bottom: Scribbler had a stonking Valentine’s season this year.
holidays and the weather was fantastic for mid-February, I even had the door open with the sun shining in! This time last year I believe we had the Beast from the East on its way!” Debbie’s sales ended up 4% compared to last year. Last minute sales was definitely the name of the game. Mark JansonSmith, owner of London-based Postmark (whose sales ended up on a par with the previous year for its shops) said that over 50% of its sales came in the last three or four days. John Lewis also experienced a passionate last minute surge on Valentine’s Day cards. “We finished Valentine’s slightly behind last year, but only by 1%,” revealed Lizzie Batchelar, assistant buyer of cards, giftwrap and seasonal events for John Lewis. “However we were really pleased with this given how back ended sales were, as expected! In the final week we saw sales come through at +18%! Our sell through was also up on last year.”
More heart rate takings PG takes the pulse of Valentine’s Day sales… l Kate Cowie, director of Utility, which has three shops in Liverpool and opens its first store in Manchester this month: “Our Valentine’s Day card sales, for cards that specifically include the word ‘Valentine’) were 9% up based on the previous year, but our ‘love card’ sales, for cards that have a love theme that we sell all year round, were a massive 36% up compared to previous year.” l Mark Rees, md of Penmark, which has 11 stores in the Midlands: “Our Valentine’s Day card sales ended up 5.4% up for the season, which was a great result. When Valentine’s Day falls is always a factor as the last week’s sales were +21% on the previous year.” l Miles Robinson, partner of House of Cards, the Home Counties group of six stores: “Our Valentine’s Day sales ended on a par with 2018 levels, which is better than the trend over the past few years. Buying patterns showed customers were buying as late as ever!” l Mark Janson-Smith, md of Postmark, group of four stores in London: “Valentine’s this year was near on exactly the same as 2018. We sold 28 more cards, but the value was down by around £200, so it does seem that people are spending a little less per card. Our buying probably reflected this so it was an obvious result, but we continue to notice that our customer base are buying more tongue-in-cheek Valentine’s cards than the more traditional, romantic ones.” Above: One of Utility’s window displays based on a Soochichacha card design.
#Shoplocal urges The Little Dog Laughed Having built up their business over the last 20 years by supplying independent card and gift retailers, The Little Dog Laughed’s co-owners, sister and brothers trio Anna Danielle, Gavin and Nathan Smith, thought they knew a thing or two about their customers’ needs. However, a recent spell running a pop-up shop in their locality of Allestree in Derbyshire opened up their eyes to the everyday trials and tribulations of indies and a quest to direct their design skills to helping their independent retail stockists to promote the #shoplocal message. Fanfared on The Little Dog Laughed stand at Spring Fair was a suite of social media visuals that could also be printed out and displayed instore which could be useful for indies - and moreover encouraging retailers to contact the publisher with any other special design requests on this front. As Anna explained: “Nothing would please me more than if my design skills could help them to encourage their customers to shop local.” Above: One of the social media visuals that Anna created for indies to use.
Happy Jackson card in Brexit process The power of the greeting card has been shown to work even in the trickiest of situations, but few would have expected a thank you card to become such an attention grabber in the Brexit discussions. The image of the European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker reading a Happy Jackson thank you card 'from Ireland', as the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar looked on, attracted masses of coverage in the international press, on TV, in newspapers and on the radio, as well as trending on social media channels recently. The European Commission’s president received it from an Irish woman, called Hayley, who has no connection to politics, who just wanted to thank Jean-Claude Juncker for having "stood up for Ireland". Giles Andreae, who co-created Happy Jackson with Heather Flynn, admitted that it was rather surprising to discover the brand had a “walk-on part in the Brexit process!” Above: Jean-Claude Juncker reading a Happy Jackson thank you card 'from Ireland', as the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar looks on.
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