The Sun reported on Saturday (28 December) that an estimated 30 million 2020 calendars and diaries were printed with the incorrect date, following the government’s decision to shift the bank holiday set for Monday 4 May back to Friday 8 May, to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
The move was only announced after the majority of the UK’s 40 million diaries and calendars had already been printed.
A large proportion of those not reprinted are likely to have been printed overseas.
The Sun report said diary and calendar retailers including WH Smith, Clintons and Paperchase admitted they have “aisles full” of 2020 products featuring the wrong date after “most of the UK printing industry decided to keep the botched 2020 diaries rather than face a £50m-plus bill to pulp them and reprint”.
In June, following the government’s announcement, Printweek spoke to two of the UK’s biggest calendar printers, who were in the process of taking action to replace the incorrect pages in their products.
Cuffley, Hertfordshire-based Allan & Bertram said around 400,000 of the calendars that it had already printed for 2020 needed to have the May pages replaced, costing the company around £200,000.
Allan & Bertram managing director Andrew Bennett said at the time: “The effect on production is colossal. Some were printed, bound and finished so they’ve got to be stripped back; others were printed and collated, so they’ve got to have months taken out; and some were printed but not collated. Lots of things were at different stages.
“We are entirely behind the VE Day celebrations; it should be done, and we should remember this. But it’s giving 11 months’ notice that is not acceptable when you’ve had 74 years to plan it.
“Part of our brand ethos is quality and we have to be true to that. We have to make sure that it goes out right, and now that we know that it’s wrong, we have to take the decision to correct it.”
Colchester, Essex-based Rose Calendars, meanwhile, said there were opportunities provided by the change.
Managing director Michael Rose told Printweek in June that as well as replacing the May month leaf in its calendars, it was producing a 75th anniversary commemorative sticker set.
“As a reminder of the date, these stickers can be used not only on calendars, but on other promotional materials to really highlight the event,” he said.
“We think it’s a great opportunity for people to commemorate VE Day and we love the fact that it’s highlighting calendars and dates and making something of the event.”
The Sun said the government has snubbed pleas for compensation from printers that have reprinted diaries and calendars.
Many publishers of these products already include disclaimer clauses within to cover their retailer customers in case of any changes.
The disclaimer in the 2020 diaries published in the UK by Tallon International (prior to the date change announcement), for example, states: “Although the publisher has taken every measure to ensure all data is correct, they cannot accept responsibility for any errors herein. Some bank and public holidays are subject to confirmation and can change without prior notice.”
Tallon International published the following notice on its website in June: “For every publisher of diaries and calendars in the country this change will affect the following dated products: 2019 18-month diaries and calendars running from Jan 2019 to June 2020, 2019/2020 academic diaries and calendars which run from August 2019 to July 2020 – both products have been on sale long before the change was announced.
“2020 diaries and calendars running from Jan 2020 to Dec 2020 – products which, for most publishers, have already been printed with a proportion already delivered to customers.”
The publisher had also contacted the government department BEIS in June to lobby for VE Day to be an additional bank holiday on 8 May instead of replacing the 4 May bank holiday.
The Sun added the change has affected the holiday plans of many Brits, who traditionally book holidays for the next year straight after Christmas, while families are gathered together.
Travel experts told the newspaper that demand for flights has seen airline prices double over the non-existent May 1-4 holiday weekend, “proving many Brits do not know about the date change”.