One of the most successful modern-day Christmas films is Love Actually – a romantic comedy with an all-star cast, focusing on different love stories during the festive period. Released in 2003, it demonstrates how different couples coped with various trials and tribulations during the five weeks before Christmas.
As the film progresses, many of the couples and their stories are seen to be interlinked. The course of true love doesn’t always run smoothly, as Jamie (played by Colin Firth) finds out when he discovers his girlfriend is having an affair with his own brother.
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Hugh Grant plays the newly elected Prime Minister, who is attracted to a junior member of his staff, Natalie (Martine McCutcheon), but their relationship becomes an emotional rollercoaster with many ups and downs and it looks doubtful that they’ll ever get together.
Meanwhile, company director Harry is attracted to his new secretary and decides to buy her a sneaky Christmas gift – behind his unsuspecting wife’s back. This leads to one of the funniest scenes in the film.
Harry (Alan Rickman) attempts to buy his employee a necklace in a large department store – but he’s being rather foolish because he’s out shopping with his wife Karen (Emma Thompson) at the time. He starts panicking, in case she returns and spots him, as she has popped to another department.
The rather creepy sales assistant, Rufus (Rowan Atkinson), asks Harry, “Would you like it gift-wrapped?” to which Harry replies that he would.
However, he soon starts to regret his decision, as Rufus takes ages, causing him to feel increasingly panic-stricken about the impending return of his wife.
He tells Rufus he needs the gift “rather quickly”, but this seems to slow the sales assistant down even further. Rather than being a pleasurable experience, it serves only to wind Harry up. Eventually, he snaps at Rufus and walks away empty-handed!
Although it’s a wonderfully comic scene in Love Actually, in reality, as Christmas approaches, many retailers offer a gift-wrapping service and they would be appalled if a sales assistant lost a customer because they were so slow!
Gift wrapping can be a welcome benefit for people feeling the strain of Christmas shopping, who are happy to leave the tedious task to an expert.
Most major retailers provide gift wrapping as an extra service, in high street shops and online. In the case of some of the top high street retailers, they even provide gift wrapping training for their employees.
Savvy shop owners see it as a useful tool to attract busy customers, but more cautious retailers will compare the advantages, such as improving their service, with the disadvantages like the extra cost to shoppers, the time it takes staff to wrap purchases and the costs of the gift-wrapping materials.
Many of the top retailers provide gift wrapping all year round, but the service gets increasingly popular as Christmas approaches.
Luxury gift box
Some high-end brands go a step further than gift wrap and provide a gift box. Selfridges offers its signature yellow gift box for items bought at its Oxford Street store. It also provides a personalised gift box online when customers click on “Gift Box” at the checkout. Their purchases will be wrapped in the high-quality box, complete with a personal message.
The famous jeweller, Links of London, provides the brand’s famous cream box, fastened with a black ribbon. This is standard at all times of year with all purchases, although it’s particularly popular at Christmas.
Harrods in Knightsbridge devotes a department to gift wrapping customers’ purchases and has a trained team that provides a bespoke service. There are plenty of choices for gifts of all sizes, and wrapping materials include top-quality luxury wrapping paper, with accessories such as small wooden toys, berry bouquets and ribbons in all colours.
Is there a market for gift wrapping?
Unfortunately, there don’t appear to be any surveys that show the percentage of consumers who use a store’s gift wrapping service.
However, wrapping Christmas presents is certainly a job that many of us hate, with 52% of shoppers claiming it takes too long, 27% finding it irritating because the paper rips and 22% disliking awkwardly shaped or super-large gifts – so, it figures that these people will use a store’s gift wrap service!
An estimated $3.2 billion is spent on gift wrap every year and after the festive period, people in the UK bin a staggering 227,000 miles of Christmas wrapping paper – not to mention the thousands of gift tags, gift bows and ribbons! Based on those statistics, there’s certainly a market that retailers can tap into.
Any marketing activity to boost Christmas sales should be welcomed with open arms and when a retailer offers to gift wrap, their customers are trusting them with a big responsibility, so it pays to do a great job!
Do you think that gift wrapping is an important part of customer service – and which retailer offers the best customer service, in your opinion?
Share your views on Psydro’s customer reviews platform – and in doing so, you can enter our fabulous Christmas competition, where 75 Love2Shop vouchers are up for grabs. The winners will be picked out of the “hat” on 31st December 2018.