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“Party suppliers need to think beyond a ‘business as usual’ approach”

Family-run packaging and partyware wholesaler based in Manchester, W.F. Denny supplies balloons, decorations and partyware to retailers and party organisers right across the UK. Owner John Haken takes a look at how retailers can encourage safe party planning during the pandemic.

“The year 2020 has been challenging for party supplies and wholesalers, with the Covid-19 pandemic changing the game in terms of how consumers across the world are socialising.

With social distancing guidance still firmly in place and lockdown measures being reintroduced in many countries due to a second wave of the coronavirus, key events on the holiday calendar – including Halloween, Thanksgiving in the US, bonfire night in the UK and even Christmas – will need to be celebrated differently.

In order to ensure it is meeting the needs and expectations of their customers during this unusual time, the party supplies sector needs to think carefully about what people will need to mark these events safely. By doing so, they can remind their customers that they can still get into the spirit of the season, even in these extraordinary circumstances.

With restrictions on household mixing tightening up in many countries, it seems clear that traditional social gatherings at home are unlikely to be viable for Halloween 2020 and beyond. As such, retailers should be looking to celebrate the benefits of virtual parties and highlight the products that are suitable for creating the right mood, such as partyware, balloons, bunting, banners and festive props.

Most people are keen to carry on celebrating major events even as lockdown conditions persist, but at the same time, they are still taking the potential risks to public health very seriously. Party suppliers should be making sure to show that they share these values.

When speaking directly to consumers, retailers should offer reminders of the importance of a good sense of safety. Recognise the fact that many people will be taking precautions this year and offer advice on the safest and most hygienic ways to celebrate, such as fun games to play at home, or sealed bags for hygienically handing out sweets to Halloween trick-or-treaters.

By striking a considerate tone, you can help consumers feel safe about party planning, without encouraging any irresponsible behaviour.

Celebrating events like Halloween and Christmas remotely will be a brand new experience for many people. You can help to encourage them to think creatively about party planning during lockdown by providing them with some good ideas to get started.

Offer advice to consumers about hosting pumpkin-carving competitions, fancy dress parties or themed movie marathons via Zoom; help them come up with ideas for online games, remote scavenger hunts or seasonal quizzes. Take that opportunity to highlight specific party products that can bring a real atmosphere to these activities.

It is clear that life in 2020 will not be returning to the old norms any time soon, which means that party suppliers need to continue thinking beyond a ‘business as usual’ approach. By helping to inspire customers to think of new ways to keep the party spirit and mood alive during these months of lockdown, they can ensure that traditional celebrations can continue in a way that’s safe and fulfilling for all.”

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