As inflation sparks price hikes across the board, birthdays are set to become more expensive with high street retailers forced to increase prices.

The Card Factory said inflationary pressures have seen card prices already rising and higher price points are expected to last throughout the year.

Bosses also revealed the hit they took from the pandemic has almost been reversed and they expect sales to beat pre-Covid levels by this year.

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Card Factory said: “As previously guided in January, the board expects significant inflationary headwinds to continue through (the current financial year).

“Pre-emptive action has already mitigated a significant proportion of the identified inflationary headwinds through a combination of efficient management of costs and working capital as well as targeted price increases.”

The company added that there has been a shift away from a reliance on major peaks in business linked to national celebrations, including Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, towards everyday ranges of birthday cards and general greetings, which make up 70% of sales.

Chief executive Darcy Willson-Rymer explained how the past year had seen an improvement, although the reopening of physical stores took a knock to online sales.

He said: “We saw a steady recovery in store performance as lockdown restrictions eased, particularly in the run-up to Christmas with store sales approaching pre-pandemic levels in this key trading period.

“As we reopened our stores, we saw our online performance decline slightly year on year; however, we remain greatly encouraged that our Card Factory online sales were significantly ahead of pre-pandemic levels.

“This year will see us make further progress in developing our customer proposition, through a broader product range and improved online experience, as part of our transition to a leading omnichannel retailer.”

Overall sales in the 12 months to the end of January were up 28% to £364.4 million, with pre-tax profits hitting £11.1 million compared to a £16.4 million pre-tax loss a year earlier.

Store sales were up 33% year-on-year due to an extra 20% more store trading days as pandemic restrictions ended.

However, online sales fell 13.5% on a like-for-like basis.

The company added it would not be paying a dividend until loans taken out during the pandemic, including the Government’s Covid-19 loan scheme, are repaid in 2024.