GOTY Email - One Day To Go...

It’s the final day of our competition!! Yes, you only have one day left to enter our Gift of the Year 2019 competition. Entries will close at 11pm tonight! so you still have a full day to enter and complete your entries.

Thank you to all those have entered and good luck for the initial stages of judging. For those that have not entered yet, what are you waiting for?…The competition is a great way for you to raise the profile of your products and businesses as well as all your hard work as you get them in front of our judging panel of industry judgesincluding, buyers, retailers, and key industry experts. To find out more about the benefits then speak to a member of the team.

If you’ve already filled in your product details, you might want to make sure your entries are all present and correct or even enter a few more categories out of the 20 we have in this year’s competition.

Take a look at last years winners…

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All entrants will receive branding they can use online or in print, with even more exclusive marketing goodies if your products are shortlisted, become finalists or even win. The winners will be announced at an all-inclusive, free to attend a special ceremony hosted at Spring Fair.

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The timetable for the competition is as follows:

  • The closing date is this Wednesday, the 5th November 2018 – 11PM;
  • Shortlisted companies will be notified w/c 13th December 2018;
  • Shortlisted samples will be required by 8th January 2019

We look forward to seeing what you’ve got in store for the judges. The Gift of the Year team is here to help, so if you need guidance please contact us on 0121 237 1142 or email

Good Luck

The Giftware Asociation Team


There has been a lot in the news about the rights and wrongs of selling a £2 T Shirt

The main concerns are whether it is right to offer a t shirt for just £2? Does it encourage disposable fashion and how can such a low price cover worker’s salaries?

Retailers defended their pricing by acknowledging the £2 t shirts and £5 dresses were loss leaders, used to generate footfall rather than with the intention of making profits. They assured us that such cheap merchandise was only part of the mix and did not impact on their commitment to quality and their ethical values

Its easy for us to sit in judgement on the fashion retailers but the headlines only reveal what is normal practise for most shops.

Many retailers call it EPP pricing – Entry Price Point – the price you splash across your point of sale and advertising to draw people in to your shop. Staff are then briefed to try to sell the customer up to a more profitable model using the cheaper priced product as a stepping stone.

Its an addictive and highly visible strategy. Shop staff experience a huge increase in the volume of customers and Head Office relaxes in the glow of an increased market share.

Its not just the lower end of the high street which use headline prices to attract footfall. More up market department stores such as Selfridges and Liberty of London will also lead on lower priced products, especially at key times of the year such as Xmas, to ensure that they appeal to a wider range of shoppers than their normal core customers.

So if everyone does it, is it such a bad thing? The ability to pull more customers in to your shop must always be beneficial?

Although it is probably always a good thing for sales selling a cheap product does not always work for either profit or brand perception

John Lewis does not participate in EPP pricing for some product areas, especially low margin ones like electronics. When I worked for Dixons they viewed John Lewis rather than the supermarkets as their biggest threat simply because John Lewis were not bogged down by the lowest margin products and were therefore able to concentrate on selling products that made a profit. If you make under £1 on a cheap laptop then you have to sell warranties and accessories to make a profit which meant the customer was rapidly detoured in to a hard sell scenario. If you only sell laptops which make you a profit you can concentrate on offering a great customer experience with resulting higher customer satisfaction. While Dixons scrabbled about selling volume John Lewis cherry picked the higher margin and more aspirational brands which added to a better perception of their own brand.

Burberry found to its cost that although EPP scarves gave an entry price in to their brand it also allowed a multitude of imitation/rip off scarves which negatively impacted on their brand in a very high profile way.

For many shops the need to offer pocket money products is a given. A shelf of products ranging from £1 to £5 give parents an easy way to satisfy pester power and buy stocking fillers/small gifts.

However, although having a lower priced offering is a key part of most shop’s merchandise strategies it is important that the product is still representative of the shop as a whole. Stationery is a great thing to offer at low prices because the quality of the product does not have to be compromised. Similarly, fashion accessories, magnets and keychains can all be sold at £5 and under without compromising your values. Different designs can enable lower prices and the customer can see and understand the value in your range offering.

Its much more questionable when lower price points stretch to offering £5 soft toys or T shirts. At this price the products themselves are invariably of visibly lower quality and can do your brand no service. Low quality and low price will also raise doubts about the ethics of manufacturer which ripples out to questions of your own brand.

We believe that the key to the £2 T Shirt question is really about knowing that if the spotlight of social media was turned upon your shop would you be happy with the resulting publicity? I’m not sure that Primark would chalk the publicity for their £2 t shirt up as good for their brand however well they explained it, and Marks and Spencers certainly wouldn’t.

Ironically all of our lower priced products are either fair trade and/or organic so we would be very happy to have the publicity. There is a clear reason why our lower priced products are cheaper, either because of the simplicity of design involved, or because we use upcycled materials or even just because they are smaller!

There is never an easy answer about questions such as these. Pricing and merchandise decisions are subject to so many more influences than money that it is always going to be more complicated than it should be. However what is good about high visibility cases such as The £2 T Shirt is that it allows the rest of us to have a good look at our own ranges in private before the spotlight of publicity makes us do it in public.

Guest Blog from Gaynor at Best Years – WWW.BESTYEARS.CO.UK





Joint LogosThe Giftware Association is excited to announce a new and exciting competition for the industry, partnering with award winning tech company, The Insights People and using the combined knowledge and expertise to create a competition which will be judged by the end consumers and focusing on kids and parents. They are both proud to introduce the Kids Gift of The Year award and Parents Gift of The Year award.

The awards will run alongside The GA’s successful Gift of The Year competition, but rather than an industry judging panel featuring buyers and retailers, the final decision on the winners will be made by the kids and parents, ultimately the end consumers, creating a whole new audience for the products to be judged by. The new competitions will run throughout the year and compared to the existing entry options, will award seasonal winners across Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter providing multiple opportunities for successes to be recognised and creating fantastic exposure for companies looking to promote their products and ranges to get a totally different viewpoint of their gifts.


The exciting collaboration between The GA and The Insights People arose from a mutually shared interest in supporting the Industry. The Insights People are a Manchester-based tech company which surveys 20,000 different children and 10,000 different parents in the UK each year. They already write for trade magazines, provide industry reports and work with global brands such as Disney and the BBC.  The GA similarly supports the Industry through their Gift of the year Competition, Meet The Buyer days, trade shows, government lobbying and a host of services and benefits to help their members adapt to the changing socio-economic environment.

We have been looking at ways to grow Gift of the Year to be more than the annual competition it is, and hopefully create something that is all year round, celebrating all the fantastic products we see at all the shows we visit. Our conversations with The Insights People in how we can work together to support our members quickly grew organically into the new competitions that we are due to launch. We are extremely excited to be working alongside The Insights People as we share the same ethos in supporting the industry.” Sarah Ward CEO, The Giftware Association

Nick Richardson, CEO of The Insights People, added: “Since launching The Insights People in 2017 we have gained fantastic traction working with brands and publishers. We are already welcoming several major retailers for 2019 and are excited to be launching an award that reflects consumer opinion and gives an extra level of confidence to those launching new products and pitching to buyers”

Entries for both awards will be open from the beginning of December and will run throughout the year. Companies can choose to enter both the awards or just one and for the number of seasons required, giving them a chance to enter different products throughout the year when new products become available. The winners will receive an industry report, marketing collateral to shout about their win and the chance to attend a networking lunch with buyers and industry peers as well as their winning products joining the stand in the Gift of the Year pavilion at Spring Fair.

To find out more please visit and for more information.



The Giftware Association

The Giftware Association (the GA) is a national trade representative body and is the only UK trade association serving the gift and home industry. We recognise the remarkable talent and creativity of members ranging from retailers to suppliers, high street brands names to individual craftspeople and many others. Since 1947, the association’s commitment has always been to help and support members and help them make money, save money and save time by offering a wide selection of services and support.

The Insights People

The Insights People is the most comprehensive and dynamic market intelligence company specialising in providing market intelligence on kids, parents and families.  In the UK, they survey 20,000 children and 10,000 expecting and new parents every year. Their award-winning real-time data portal enables clients to filter and interrogate the data to their own specific needs, and their quarterly reports provide insight-led commentary and analysis of the latest trends.



Competition Extension

To give entrants time to finalise their entries and due to popular demand, we have decided to extend the Gift of the Year entry deadline.

The competition will now close on Wednesday, the 5th of December.

That means if you have already entered and want to consider adding more entries, or if you haven’t got around to entering yet, you still have a full week. After that, the entries will close and be put in front of our panel of retailers, trade press editors and industry experts.

All entrants will receive branding they can use online or in print, with even more exclusive marketing goodies if your products are shortlisted, become finalists or even win. The winners will be announced at a special free-to-attend ceremony hosted by Spring Fair, on Sunday February 3rd.

The timetable for the competition is now as follows:

  • The closing date is next Wednesday, the 5th of December;
  • Shortlisted companies will be notified on Thursday, the 13th of December;
  • Shortlisted samples will be required by Tuesday, the 8th of January.

To enter, visit the Enter Now section on the Gift of the Year website.

The Gift of the Year team is here to help, so if you need guidance please contact us on 0121 237 1142 or email

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Scotland Trade Fair

Register now for Scotland’s Trade Fair from 20-22 Jan 2019 where there will be at least a third of all exhibitors who are new to the Show and many others showcasing their 2019 stock for the first time.

With a fantastic line-up of companies this is a ‘must visit’ show as it is the only chance in Scotland for sourcing gifts, homewares, crafts, jewellery, fashion accessories, textiles and clothing, and food and drink together in one venue.

To be launched at the Show is ‘Nessie’s Den’ where 3 prominent retailers – Nancy Smillie from Glasgow, Yvonne Carr from Visit Scotland, and Helen Crawford from the Old School in Beauly – will evaluate selected exhibitors’ products in a light-hearted session on Mon 21st, and another session for food producers with food retailers in the ‘Den’ on Tues 22nd.

Other workshops and seminars include social media to grow your business by Tuminds Founder Rene Looper; Ian Retallick on How independents can take on the giants and win; Harnessing the power of digital influencers by O Communications; Visual merchandising by Lynda Murray and many more.

The array of new exhibitors ranges from large, household names to niche producers but all will have dazzling displays. New for 2019 are Wrendale Designs, Galleon Jewellery, Channel Jumpers, Tartan Centre Wales, Susie Wright, The Highland Soap Company, James Galt, Sophie’s Wild Woollens, Pretty Pens, The BiGroup and Blue Eyed Sun with so many innovative products that will sell well.

Launching to the trade in the specially created Launch Gallery are Cubby’s Salve, Blackwater Barn Designs, The Divine Hag, Clarabella Christie, Midge Solutions, Urban Caledonia and Bart’s Balms.

The Craft Gallery, in association with Craft Scotland, has some truly creative exhibitors such as Kirsti Brown Ceramics, Helen Ruth Scarves, Tessuti Scotland and Vivienne Sillar Ceramics.

For the best in the Show, awards will be given on the opening morning. This year’s judges are Rhona Henderson from Gretna, Julie Pearson from Cloudberry Gifts in Edinburgh and Anne Boyd from Dornoch Jail. The winning products will be on display in the centre of the Show.

Adding a personal touch to your retail offering, whether its sourcing local products or giving the story behind it, will help attract customers and encourage purchasing. Becky Walker from The Green Gallery in Stirlingshire said: “It’s really important to keep changing stock and we find we thrive by adding a personal touch to our business through individual consultations or sourcing work for customers. We love finding new producers so we always feel the trade fair is a ‘must see’ twice a year for sourcing.”

Show Director Mark Saunders adds: “As we enter the most important trading period, everyone is hoping the year will close on a high with strong festive season sales. This would be the perfect backdrop for the show in January and retailers can start the hunt for new ideas with confidence off the back of a successful 2018. Whatever befalls we know that we are offering them a fantastic array of interesting and creative exhibitors.”