With Halloween just around the corner, there’s been plenty going on out there in the world of retail – both good and bad. Kate Moore, owner of JollyJesters fancy dress shop in Derbyshire, shares her opinion on the true state of Britain’s high streets in 2019.
How has business been for you in the first six months of 2019?
“As always during the past ten years we’re battling against cheap Chinese imports, supermarkets, and discount chainstores. But every week we are seeing more and more customers who’ve been let down by eBay/Amazon and who want us to rescue them. Very often this is at ten minutes to closing time on the day of their party and they’re not always as polite or as grateful as we feel they should be, but for the most part people are happy we’ve been able to bail them out and they come back to us next time.”
Do you think that the last six months have been a fair representation of the state of the party industry at the moment?
“Pretty much yes, as regards the number of bricks’n’mortar shops which are closing down. That doesn’t seem to have slowed down, sadly.”
Have you seen any particular crazes or fashions this year?
“Peaky Blinders is still a recurring party theme, and we expect that may continue as the new series is soon to be broadcast. The Greatest Showman isn’t as big here as it was in 2018, especially for carnival floats, which is a pity as there is a far bigger range of these costumes this summer (from Smiffy’s and Bristol Novelty) than there was last summer.”
Have any areas of your business done particularly well this year so far? Why do you think this might be?
“Hire costumes are going out in a larger ratio to sell-through costumes than they were last year. Every year since 2015 the hire/sell ratio has increased for us, which is the main thing we feel has kept us in business. People are starting to appreciate the quality and exclusivity of hire-out costumes. We light a virtual candle every day to celebrate that we didn’t sell off our 2,000+ hire costumes when the going got tough!”
Have you made any significant business changes this year?
“Our main change has been to trim the wages bill by paying out for fewer hours. (Thanks as always to Leonie, for being such a committed member of the Jollyjesters team!) Not an easy choice, but it was the most sensible way forward. We continue to expand our website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, encouraging customers to share their party photos with us, which they seem happy to do.”
How do you expect the rest of 2019 to be for your business?
“As in recent years, I think we’ll lose out to the supermarkets and discount stores on the pre-packed costumes and accessories around Halloween, Christmas, and NYE, but hopefully recoup the on last-minute stuff.”