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VIEWPOINTS

How’s It Going With three out of the four Spring Seasons now ticked off the calendar, PG checked in with some notable greeting card retailers to find out how the first quarter trading of 2017 has shaped up.

Overall Verdict: “Very encouraging.” Rachael Barnes, co-owner of Dragonfly Cards and Gifts, Knaresborough: First quarter report: “The first quarter of this year has been very encouraging. Sales have been strong for us for all of the Spring Seasons so far, the rates review went in our favour, and increasing prices don't seem to be deterring customers. While we never do a comparison until the end of April, as the varying dates for Easter skews the data, we know that we are definitely on par with last year, hopefully slightly up, but we will know for sure in a couple of weeks.” The boons: “We have been more active with social media in 2017, and been involved in new opportunities, such as writing a blog for the giftshophub, which has been great for exposure.” The bugbears: “The worst things in the first quarter have been the rising costs - both from suppliers and the increase in Minimum Wage at the start of the month. Thankfully, the rate review went in our favour, as we now qualify for small business relief, so the savings there will offset some of the increases.” Buying patterns: “Customers’ buying patterns don't seem to have changed much; they still leave it to the last minute as always for the seasons, with three quarters of sales coming in the last three days! They do however seem willing to spend a bit more for the right card; some of the cautiousness we've seen in the past is going.” Above: The Easter display in in Dragonfly Cards & Gifts. Left: Rachael Barnes (far right) with her mum and business partner Rita Knibbs (second left) with Paper Salad co-founders Karen Wilson (far left) and Clare Williams on the publisher’s stand at PG Live.

Overall Verdict: “Challenging, but positive.” Pete Whiteman, co-owner of Dzodzo, Woodbridge: First quarter report: “The first quarter of 2017 has been challenging, but positive. Allowing for the movement, Mother's Day and Easter sales have been encouragingly up by around 4% on the previous year. The first quarter was always going to be a tough time as the public became aware of price increases coming through on the back of the weaker £pound. Would they continue to buy in the same quantity, or cut back with the tightening of the purse strings?” The boons: “The best event to happen to us in the first quarter was the late rush for Mother's Day, when, on the Saturday prior to the event takings were up by 21% like-for-like on the same day last year. It was an impressive effort by all the ladies in the shop! We have found that as retailers we have had to up our game, present a sharper range of cards and other products, and go the extra mile (in addition to the one we normally go), to help keep the regulars returning to enjoy their experience of shopping in the store. We have introduced many smaller publishers to enhance the range from the larger companies to provide us with something that sets us apart from the crowd.” The bugbears: “The hardest event to hit us in the first quarter was undoubtedly Storm Doris. The week of the storm really hit the number of people on the high street, and caused a hard few days.” Buying patterns: “Interestingly, with everything going on so far this year - Brexit talks, weak £Pound and anything else that the media wishes to scare the public with - we have found little change in consumer patterns. The public still have the confidence to treat each other to an extra card or that extra little gift without too much thought going into the cost.” Top: Pete and Jelena Whiteman at last year’s Retas awards. Above: The effects of Storm Doris dampened Dzodzo’s sales.

PROGRESSIVE GREETINGS WORLDWIDE

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Progressive Greetings Worldwide May 2017