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Editorial blog

Christmas Comes Early at Hobbycraft!

24 Oct 2019

Angela Sara West chats with Hobbycraft’s Seasonal Buyer, Samantha Shiers, to find out about the retail chain’s exciting festive offering, trends its enjoying and its exclusive ceramic charity star.

It’s already begun to look a lot like Christmas at Hobbycraft, with this year’s festive collections landing online and on shelves in stores a few weeks ago.

Seeing an increasing demand for an early launch of its seasonal products every year, the craft retailer has already seen a cracking start to its Christmas 2019 sales.

So, it’s been another year of strong growth for Hobbycraft!

Indeed! We’ve seen a strong trading performance for the first half of our financial year (ending August 18), with total sales increased by plus 11 per cent. Our 2019 Christmas range arrived online and in store in September, and sales got off to a flying start, with an increase of nine per cent compared to last year.

What does Hobbycraft love most about Christmas and festive crafts, and what’s the best thing about a handmade Christmas?

Christmas brings so many creative ways to inspire both avid crafters and novices to take up a new skill, from creating personalised decorations and advent calendars, to homemade gifts. There’s nothing more rewarding than a handmade Christmas. Whether it’s been handmade by yourself, with the family or by a friend, it’s not just the end result that is rewarding, it’s the process it took to get there.

Tell me a little about Hobbycraft’s festive offering for 2019

Our 2019 Christmas collection is packed with the latest trends and festive favourites that will inspire customers to ‘Make Their Christmas’ a truly memorable one.

Last year, you focused on glass fillables and mini resins, ceramic blanks and wood blanks. What’s your focus for Christmas 2019?

Anything our customers can make and personalise will continue to be our focus. Favourites continue to be Advent and fillables, as our customers can get creative and inject a touch of their own style into the personalised designs. Floral Wreath Making is another category that we continue to focus on, ensuring we offer a wide range of bases for our customers to choose from. We also continue to grow our blank decoration ranges, where customers can select the material base they prefer to decorate, whether it be wooden or ceramic, for example.

You have some wonderful new innovations this season, such as your stunning new illuminated wooden LED scenes and Advent calendars, and gorgeous ceramic decorations

We pride ourselves in always ensuring that we inspire our customers with the latest craft projects and festive favourites. A new product concept for us this year is Decorate & Personalise your own LED Domes. It’s the same concept as fillables, whereby you select your miniatures to then personalise and decorate your own scene. These two product ranges sit perfectly alongside each other, allowing our customers to easily match their chosen festive style. We also have a new range of intricate LED Wooden Blanks across Advent and Home Décor for the more advanced crafter.

Your latest stats indicate that sales of Advent calendars have rocketed – why do you think they are proving particularly popular this year?

Since the launch of our Christmas collection, we have seen sales rise spectacularly by 479 per cent! Advent is so popular because it allows the customer to get creative and completely personalise their calendar. This early on, we are seeing strong sales in Advent due to the nature of the product and the time it takes to decorate. Each can be specifically designed and filled with content that is unique to the individual, thus making it a special and exciting countdown to Christmas.

What are a few of your Christmas ‘hero’ products?

We have hero products across all of our Christmas categories, which are usually at wow prices or unique to us. Some of our hero products have continued to be popular with our customers in recent years, such as the packs of Fillable Baubles and Ceramic Baubles. These products are what we are famous for and what our customers can rely on getting from us. Alongside this, we like to keep the range fresh and innovative and introduce newness into the ranges each season, such as the LED Domes.

What emerging festive craft trends have you been seeing coming through for Christmas 2019?

We are seeing strong sales in our Fillable and Ceramic Baubles, due to customers buying these to make and sell at craft fairs. Christmas tree bauble decorating is a craft trend that just continues to grow. Blank ceramic hanging decorations, that can be tailored with chosen designs to suit any home décor, are already bestsellers this year, with £8.2K sold to date. Brush lettering, felting, painting… there’s a technique and project for everyone, whether you’re an advanced crafter or novice. The projects are endless.

Is the personalisation phenomenon still growing?

Personalisation continues to be a huge phenomenon, and we see over 10,000 searches on the blog. Christmas at Hobbycraft is all about personalisation, handcrafting and making something for your home or as a gift. It’s not only a fun festive activity to do, it’s also very rewarding when you see the end result and the reactions of others.

With macramé back in fashion, and helping to bring yarn to the forefront of the festive trends, Hobbycraft has introduced yarn crafts into many areas of its Christmas offering, with materials and patterns for soft toys, blankets, stockings and even bunting for crafters to make. Have these products been proving particularly popular?

Macramé has been one of the biggest trends of 2019, and it shows no sign of abating as we head into the Christmas season. This year, we have seen uplifts in both reach and engagement on our social channels, including a 20 per cent uplift in engagement on Facebook. Macramé is also popular with crafters looking for inspiration and ideas, and we’ve seen an uplift in website and blog searches due to its popularity.

Are chunky yarn makes still huge?

Chunky yarn helps to create really impactful designs, such as knitted stockings, festive blankets and patterned knitwear, and we anticipate as we enter the colder months that shoppers will look to chunky yarns for their winter makes and gifts.

How does Hobbycraft stay ahead of the curve and on top of trends? Where do you source inspiration for new Christmas products?

We hold listening groups with customers and colleagues, and attend Christmas trend shows and trade fairs, which allow us to ensure we are following the most up-to-date trends and offering everything that our customers would expect and want to fi nd.

Following the successful trial in its Crawley store, Hobbycraft has been rolling out its ‘Custom Crafting’ areas to selected stores across the country. How’s the new concept going?

They’ve been really well received so far! We’ve seen a real demand from our customers when it comes to personalisation, and offering them the chance to try the Cricut machine is key to our plans. The Custom Crafting area can currently be found in ten of our stores, and we’re looking to expand the range in the future.

From September 28, Hobbycraft will once again start hosting its ‘12 Makes of Christmas’ workshops. What creations can customers look forward to this year?

Our ‘12 Makes of Christmas’ instore events programme allows our customers to try or see a crafting project or technique that they may not have done before. It’s a great taster for our customers to see how to complete a particular project, or understand what materials are best used on different surfaces. We have workshops for all types of crafters, ranging from fillables for beginners, Advent for the more advanced crafter, and Paint Your Own Ceramics for the kids. The great thing about the workshops is that you meet like-minded crafty people and, best of all, there’s no mess to have to clear up afterwards!

How is Hobbycraft making Christmas crafting more sustainable?

At Hobbycraft, we are committed to improving the sustainability of all aspects of our business. We take our position as a responsible retailer seriously and, as part of our CSR commitments, we are always looking to source more sustainable ways for our customers to craft. We already offer biodegradable glitter, both in store and online, and our aim is to be completely nonbiodegradable glitter free by 2021. We are currently reducing our use of single-use plastics in products and packaging, and are working towards 100 per cent reusable, recyclable and compostable packaging by 2021. This year, 50 per cent of the Christmas range will retail with no packaging. Sustainability is important to us, and we work closely with our trusted suppliers to make sure we’re offering quality products.

Tell me about Hobbycraft’s exclusive ceramic star, which raises funds to help children’s hospice, Together for Short Lives?

Together for Short Lives is the national charity that raises funds for seriously ill children their families and the 54 UK children’s hospice services that support them. Our seven-year partnership is based on our shared belief in the therapeutic power of arts and crafts. Our exclusive ceramic star will help to create more precious memories this Christmas, with 50p from every purchase being donated to the charity.

What would be the main message Hobbycraft would like to get across about Christmas craft?

We want to encourage our customers to “Make Their Christmas”. Customers can delve into our Christmas collection and fill their home with custom-crafted pieces that will suit their seasonal style. From wooden and ceramic blanks, to fillable hanging decorations, customers can discover endless ideas for how to craft your perfect Christmas by simply popping into a local store or heading over to the Hobbycraft website.

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