September sales – a sign of things to come?

The autumn season is well underway and with the countdown to Halloween and then Christmas retailers are planning and hoping for a bumper quarter.

Retail sales for September are showing signs of slowing down compared to the same period in 2016. The suggestion is the impact of rising inflation and sluggish wage growth dented consumer spending power kept sales down.

Official figures showed a drop of 0.8% in September from the previous month, setting the UK on course for a period of slow growth in the run-up to Christmas.

Also, sales volumes for the previous 3 months were up just 1.5%

A senior statistician at the Office for National Statistics, Kate Davies, said looking back over the past year the underlying trend was for steadily rising sales after “a weak start to the year and a background of generally rising prices. These increased costs are reflected in the more rapid growth in the amount spent when compared with the quantity bought.”

With Christmas around the corner, already retailers are sending out pre-pre-Christmas deals in an effort to catch the early shoppers.

With Brexit cloud hanging low over the UK, higher inflation and the ever-present online discounters, Britain’s High street retailers will be looking for favorably weather and plenty of Christmas cheer these final few months of 2017.

Greetings Card Sales continue to remain strong.

In this digital world, we live in, I have lost count the number of times I’ve heard about the demise of the Greetings Card.

In an electronic world, everything is going digital, Shopping, Taxi’s, dating, heavens even banking has caught up. So surely it makes sense that Greetings Cards should continue.

Absolutely – for many years now you could send an e-birthday to friends and family.

Although – nothing quite says I’ve forgotten your birthday or Christmas by sending an electronic Birthday Card. I couldn’t quite be bothered to go to the shops and think about the type of card I wanted to buy you.

Now, I’m not saying that ‘going digital’ is a bad thing. Shopping online is convenient, hailing an Uber is quick, and transferring money to paying a bill online is fast and easy.

But I think some things are not supposed to be convenient and easy. A little thought and time show that we care about our loved ones.

News out today suggested that the traditional handwritten printed communication is as enduring as ever.

Everyone predicted the end of the greetings card, but it’s the one area of print communication that proved extremely resilient.

Figures released by the Greeting Card Association in the GCA Market Report 2017 (covering sales from January to December 2016), put the total of single cards sales in the UK at more than £1.52bn in 2016, with 881million single cards being sold in this period.

Everyday cards are now worth £1.178m, an increase of £28.7m from 2015, with sales of ages, occasions and relations showing the greatest growth to £680.6m.

Nearly 100m Christmas single cards were sold, bringing the total for the Christmas card market to one billion cards sold in the UK.

In addition, an estimated 900m Christmas cards were sold in boxes and packs worth around £230m, as well as millions of cards bought from online operators, such as Moonpig.

Heartening news for the high street is that the vast majority of greetings cards are still bought in bricks and mortar stores, rather than online.

Sharon Little, chief executive of the GCA, said: “Everyone predicted the end of the greetings card because of the fashion for digital. But it’s the one area of print communication that proved extremely resilient.”

Industry experts put this down to a vogue for more personalised or bespoke Christmas cards, handmade by small-scale artists and frequently sold through high-end stationers and department stores.