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Gift cards buck the economic downturn

The UK’s gift card and voucher market has experienced a double-digit increase of 14.3 per cent in year-on-year sales in Quarter 2 of 2011, according to the latest statistics from The UK Gift Card & Voucher Association (UKGCVA), the trade body representing the £4bn UK market. The report, compiled

independently by Ernst & Young, confirms a significant boost in this market performing well ahead of overall retail sales growth of just 0.8 per cent over the same period, according to statistics from the British Retail Consortium. These UKGCVA results are the second successive period of substantial growth year-on-year following a 15.6 per cent increase in the market in the previous quarter.

In the second quarter, it was

consumer sales rather than B2B that experienced the bigger growth at 17.5 per cent. Easter has been identified as a possible contributor to this boost, as is early summer discounting helping to attract consumers onto the high street. Sales through stores continue to show staunch resilience, with a 9 per cent increase, again a strong performance against a struggling retail sector. Online consumer sales have also recovered compared with the same period in 2010, increasing by 10 per cent.

Corporate direct sales

reported a 12 per cent increase and remain the largest sales channel for cards and vouchers. Business-to-business sales are up by 12 per cent, while

online B2B sales have made striking gains, up 150 per cent. Continuing to form an important part of the B2B category, like- for-like sales by agents increased by 27 per cent in Q2, as the category maintains its position as a strong area of growth in the gift card and voucher market. Andrew Johnson, director-

general of the UKGCVA, commented: “The buoyancy of this sector is hugely encouraging and demonstrates that in this challenging consumer environment, the flexibility and choice delivered by gift cards and vouchers offers an attractive solution. The gift card and voucher market clearly remains resilient against the backdrop of weak consumer spending and depressed retail sales. “According to The E&Y ITEM

Club’s Summer 2011 forecast these statistics show growth beyond predictions as inflation rises reduce households’ budgets by a predicted 1.4 per cent. Predictions from E&Y also suggest that the consumer gift card and voucher market will maintain its growth levels into the third quarter; a positive sign in a recovering economy otherwise. With direct sales through

shops proving strong, this suggests that consumers see gift cards and vouchers as a good value-for-money solution, whilst the continued growth across the B2B sector reflects the dynamic approach businesses are taking to motivate and incentivise staff during a period of economic adversity.”

Pop-up initiative comes to Clacton

A successful initiative aimed at giving budding retail entrepreneurs a taste of high street trading is coming to Clacton. The Pop-Up Shop scheme

was set up by Tendring District Council in Dovercourt just over a year ago with the aim of giving a no-risk opportunity to new retail formats developed by local businesses. In the first tranche, five

tenants got the chance to test their business acumen rent and rates free. And one of those was so enthused following her eight week experience that she has already gone on to take her own premises. Katrina Olive of Home Grown

Crafts opened up immediately after coming out of Chameleon, the Council’s pop-up shop, and has another tenant, Alex Greene of Babycakes by Alex, taking shelf

space with her. Merritt Short, the final tenant

who operates as Vintage Fresh is actually looking to take over Chameleon now that the scheme has finished in Dovercourt. Stephanie Rose Jewellery, the

third tenant, currently sells tiaras in a Clacton wedding shop. Sarah Candy, the

council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, said that she is delighted how well the initiative

has gone in Dovercourt. “It has had a very positive impact on Dovercourt High Street and helped budding entrepreneurs in Tendring,” she said. “It has been a great success

and we are now looking for premises to introduce the Pop-Up Shop into Clacton.” The scheme was originally

set up with funding from the Department of Communities and Local Government. August 2009 SHOPPING CENTRE

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