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Portugal’s Partyland shares its pandemic story

With four branches across Portugal, Partyland is the leading retailer in the region, offering consumers a wide and varied mix of partyware, balloons and fancy dress. spoke to owner Riaz Issa to find out how Partyland has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and what the situation is now.

Partyland first closed its doors on 16 March, a week before non-essential retail closure was compulsory across Portugal. The first ten days also saw website visits fall dramatically and so ecommerce sales also saw a steep decline.

However, after this, online sales began to stabilise and Riaz and his team were kept very busy until the end of April.

“It was my wife, myself and one employee, with one more employee working on a part-time basis from home,” Riaz explained. “Interestingly balloons were at great demand. I would almost daily go out for balloon delivery taking all the precautions and leaving the balloons at the doorstep. I had to carry with me an authorisation allowing me to do this.”

Portugal’s National Emergency Call lasted for 45 days and specifially allowed e-commerce to continue to operate, which allowed Partyland to mitigate sales losses as far as possible.

Shops were allowed to reopen from 4 May, which Partyland did, taking all the necessary cautionary measures.

“Customers were anxious to return and we have been receiving constant phone calls from people finding out if the store was open to the public or not. During the confinement period we used Instagram and Facebook a lot to keep communicating with our customers.”

Sales are not yet back to normal levels but Riaz has revealed that the figures are much better than he was expecting. “I feel very fortunate for that,” he said. “It has been quite a boost in our state of mind.”

He continued: “Based on recent weeks, my understanding and appreciation of our industry has improved for the better. We are important in people’s lives, but we need to understand trends and move quickly. Companies without a digital presence will find it very difficult to survive, but clients will come to us if we offer them, variety, quality, sophistication and above all five star customer service.”

“It is important to note that our situation is a reflection of the pandemic affecting the country. Each country has its own story. My final word goes to all in this industry: we have strong reasons to hope, but we will need to build well.”

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