With lockdown coming to an end, we asked Jeremy Lune, CEO at Cards for Good Causes, how the last four weeks have been and how he thinks the next four weeks will be in the lead up to Christmas.

It has been a really challenging year for everyone. How did the lockdown affect Cards for Good Causes?

Cards For Good Causes has a 60 year history of selling Christmas cards on behalf of hundreds of charities from the very smallest local organisations to the larger national charities, all of whom rely on us to generate income to provide life-changing services. As it has for all retailers, this year has presented a huge challenge, but none more so than the recent Lockdown that forced the closure of all non-essential retailers across England. While we wouldn’t question the important medical reasons behind restrictions as a whole, the timing of Lockdown 2 could not have been much worse for us. As a Christmas card retailer, we have 6 key weeks where people visit their local Cards For Good Causes shop and choose cards that support their charities of choice. The restrictions that were imposed from 5th November immediately removed four of these weeks, putting nearly £1 million of budgeted income at risk. This is money that is needed by our charities like never before, in a year that has seen many of the usual fundraising activities cancelled due to Covid-19.

You have a website. How about online sales during lockdown?

Online sales over the last four weeks have seen significant growth, something that we were already seeing before this lockdown, but this surge has put immense pressure on a relatively small set up that usually relied on High Street sales at this time of year. Our Monday to Friday, 9-5 warehouse operation had to very swiftly move to a 24-7 operation in a matter of days to cope with demand and we had to rapidly employ and train more staff whilst also ensuring that our employees remained Covid-safe and socially distanced. We also had to bring in extra staff to man the customer service email and phone lines as our queries increased as quickly as our online sales did. It has been an incredibly challenging four weeks but the team has been amazing.

What else did you do?

We set up a Click and Collect service within days of the lockdown announcement which has seen great success and many of our customers enjoyed pre-booking online and then collecting from their local shop. We have now decided to roll this out to all shops.

Now lockdown is lifted and we move to the Tier system. How do you think December will be?

We have had such amazing, positive support from the whole community but we still have a large mountain to climb over the next few weeks, with a significant drop in income to make up for. As a seasonal business, this cannot be achieved across the whole year, so the remaining weeks in December are absolutely vital. We are hugely excited about the reopening of our shops this week and the chance to once again be part of the Christmas ritual in the heart of local communities. Our shops are set up with customer safety as an absolute priority, with limited numbers, social distancing and provision of PPE all in places to minimise the risks associated with Covid-19, so we hope that people will feel confident and comfortable in visiting our shops and purchasing our cards and gifts. Christmas cards are particularly special this year, with people looking at greetings cards as a vital way to let loved ones know that they are thinking of them in these difficult times. We hope to generate lots of income for the many charities that we support.