Although summer is turning into autumn and the sun becomes a rarity, the party season is beginning with Halloween and Christmas just around the corner.
Despite these major holidays, the UK never needs an excuse to have a party – especially if there is something to celebrate like a friend’s birthday, a wedding or even just the start of the weekend.
The last three years post referendum have been quite difficult, mainly down to uncertainty in our business and personal lives. Positively though, it encourages us to turn to family and friends for moral support and reassurance. We are keeping in contact more often, reaching out to wish people good luck and congratulating them more than we previously would have. It also helps us feel connected to those around us.
This has seen a positive increase for those working in the card, gift and party industries who will need to make sure they continue to offer consumers great products that they will really enjoy.
While there is an increase in demand for partyware, the sector is being affected by several other trends too - namely the reduction of single use plastics and the desire to buy products with longevity. Long gone are the days of bulk buying plastic knives and forks! This is certainly proving a challenge as suppliers work out how they respond and how quickly it can be done.
A key driver in the eco-debate has been the BBC’s Blue Planet 2 which, due to its cross-generational appeal has been very influential. One shocking image in the programme was of a turtle with a drinking straw in its nostril. Instantly, the product came into sharp focus in the public’s minds.
When I was young, drinking straws were always a bit of the party fun. On the whole though, there are probably few scenarios where they are really necessary and, for those who still need to use them, there are some really interesting alternatives becoming available. On Kikkerland’s stand at Harrogate, I was amazed by the choice available! They have produced paper straws for 19 years, long before this debate was even in the public consciousness, and they are still the best disposable straws. For those who want more choice though, they do more than just paper! Kikkerland have more than 20 styles of reusable and eco-friendly straws available made of stainless steel, reusable food safe plastic, organic bamboo, borosilicate glass, and natural straw!
Historically, there have been strong links between licensing and partyware with the latest children’s TV or film character being in huge demand from excitable kids. It will be interesting to see how the businesses involved in this area respond to the demand for reusable materials when the children want the latest character.
Alongside eco-friendly cutlery, green tableware is definitely increasing in popularity and Fallen Fruits benefitted from this when they won Gift of the Year 2018 with their Green Picnic range. The plates and bowls are made of palm leaves, the cutlery is made of birchwood and all are suitable for hot and cold food. Plus, they are 100% organic and compostable - so they can get put with your organic waste when you’ve finished your sandwiches!
This move away from single use products encourages us to focus on the ‘special’ things used for specific events, which helps to create family traditions and excitement when it is ‘time to use them’ particularly if this involves being with other family members. Anyone remember their mum getting out the special crockery for Sunday Lunch?!
A more modern example is perpetual, refillable, advent calendars where each drawer or stocking has a little treat in for each day in the run up to Christmas. Heaven Sends have great success with their advent train which seems to resonate with young and old alike.
Alongside Christmas, Easter and Halloween are becoming much bigger occasions for retailers and consumers - helped by the fact that they both tie into a period of school holiday for children. Easter is a religious holiday in the UK, but I would suggest its increase in popularity is not a particularly religious thing.
The bright fresh colours of spring, accompanied by the change in season towards lighter, warmer and longer days all give us a reason to relax, enjoy ourselves and get outdoors (weather dependent!)
When Easter is at the middle-to-the-end of April, it is the perfect time to drive garden orientated sales. Garden centres can really see a difference in their spring quarter reviews if Easter has been a cold and wet weekend.
Mark Jones Commercial Director for Gisella Graham has said: “Easter is now comfortably our 2nd largest seasonal range behind Christmas and has a huge impact on our customers’ businesses.
“Whether they display a full collection of Easter goodies or use it to accent around new Spring gift and interiors, it’s become an important way of attracting customers in early Spring.” One of Gisella Graham’s best sellers is their Easter wreath, a good example of how a pretty spring decoration can really lift a room at Easter.
Talking Tables are seeing a similar increase in sales at Easter but Halloween is growing in importance for them too. The scary season tends to fall at the same time as the Autumn half term, offering a great time to get friends round for a party!!
Decorating gardens, dressing up and buying pumpkins and sweets for trick-or-treaters are all very much part of Halloween and there is definitely an air of excitement around getting out the box with everything in it to ensure it all fits from the previous trick-or-treating adventure outing. Here are some of Talking Tables products in action - spooky!!
What excuse will you use to get together with friends over autumn? For me, it’s a friend’s 60th Birthday and my thirtieth year in the industry!