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Black Friday Frenzy Shoppers Go Bargain Crazy

While those in the card trade celebrated Festive Friday, consumers at large were exposed to the US import of Black Friday on the same day (November 28), with a frenzy of discounts from retailers. And it wasn't just ‘the big boys’ that made the most of Black Friday, some independent greeting card and gift retailers also got in on the act. At Celebrations in Stourbridge, the shop held a special evening event to start the three days that Black Friday now covers. "As well as opening late we had a good range of offers and free gifts to stimulate extra trade, which worked very well," confirms director Roger Eames. "The town has held a special event on the Saturday for the last two years with street markets, funfairs, entertainment and the official switching on of the Christmas lights. I think as a feature of the pre Christmas season Black Friday will continue to grow. My main concern is that customers will delay purchasing at full price in the expectation of heavy discounts over the Black Friday 'season',

Below: Shoppers out on the town on Black Friday.

The Guardian Taken To Task In a ‘bah humbug’ piece in The Guardian last month, the newspaper posed the question: "Is 2014 the year that the Christmas card died?" It cited high postage costs and the younger generation preferring social media for "killing off a 171 year-old tradition." The GCA's chief executive, Sharon Little,

which in the long-term could be a disadvantage for all retailers." At My Set in Leicester, owner Stuart

Delahoy said he viewed Black Friday as a mixed blessing. "We had a fantastic weekend, but any gains were negated by a quieter week. It left a bit of a hangover. Black Friday is driven by the big retailers and suppliers, who, in my opinion, are making a rod for their own backs. But we have to go with it because if we don't make the most of it then we'll lose out." Reportedly, 40% was the average discount across all merchandise on Black Friday, with the day being the busiest one on record for Amazon UK.

A Palatial Welcome Going to Buckingham Palace to receive her MBE from HRH Prince Charles recently was a very proud moment for Jessica Hue who founded Colorblind Cards seven years ago. With her family in tow, she declared it "a wonderful day." "Colorblind began as an impulsive idea and has

evolved into a business which has become a tool for change and inspiration from South London to South Africa," states Jessica. "Thank you everybody for supporting us on this journey. Life is truly but a dream, stay committed to yours," she advises.

Left: Jessica Hue, founder of Colorblind Cards, received an MBE from HRH Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace.

A Very Special Occasion Card publisher Wendy Jones-Blackett is licensing some of its designs to major giftware company Widdop Bingham for 'occasions' products. Wendy comments: “Working with Widdop was

an obvious next step as a large proportion of its gifts are designed to celebrate life’s big events, notably weddings, anniversaries and babies. We are delighted with the collection they have created based on our most popular designs." Stephen Illingworth, business development

Above: A Really Good card.

firmly disagreed however. While conceding that the cost of postage has become a factor, she pointed out that overall sales of Christmas cards were expected to hold up, with some senders choosing to hand deliver rather than post. “Last year [2013] we saw sales of single Christmas cards actually go up from £125 million to £130 million, while around 900 million cards were sold as part of box sets," she told the newspaper. "But it is an increasingly fragmented market. With the likes of Primark selling cards, they are now so cheap that the card itself costs a fraction of the cost of sending it. Buyers have responded by increasingly delivering them themselves.” Defending traditional cards over e-cards, Sharon highlighted research findings that gave proof of people’s dislike of them. In the same article,

it was cited how a reduction in card sending is damaging charities’ fundraising efforts. Charity Card Aid confirmed that it had reduced its temporary shops to just 10 last year, down from 30 in 2013, citing postage costs and changing social habits among the young as the reasons for less take up,

We're Not Amused After Clintons scored a triumph with its early PR activities to promote Christmas cards, the retailer came under fire in early December over a single card design. The greeting card retailer received

Above: The new Wendy Jones-Blackett collection from Widdop Bingham.

manager of Widdop Bingham, added: “Wendy has been on our radar for some time now. Her designs, which combine classic luxury with multiple finishes, stand out within the market place. This licence allows us to add a completely new dimension to our giftware range.” Wendy’s range of licensed gifts is being previewed at Widdop’s New Product Preview which

takes place in January at the company's North Manchester showrooms, with the new collection showcased on the company's stand at Spring Fair in Hall 5 stand K4/K3.

hundreds of complaints and media coverage concerning a £2 Christmas card design being sold by Clintons on its website that mocked people living on council estates. The card was withdrawn from the Clintons’ website. Clintons issued an official statement to the media stressing: "It is no way reflective of our views and we apologise without reservation. We are investigating how this offensive card got through our quality control procedures."

Above: The Christmas card that Clintons took a PR pasting on made a joke about Santa living in a council.


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