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UPDATE 1-Card Factory says store sales down slightly after UK reopens

(Adds details of sales, background)

May 21 (Reuters) - Greeting cards and gifts retailer Card Factory on Friday reported a slight drop in like-for-like store sales in the five weeks since shops began reopening in the United Kingdom, compared with the same period in 2019.

Non-essential retailers across the UK were battered by repeated COVID-19 restrictions that began easing only in April.

The company said initial sales after the UK reopened stores were better compared with earlier reopenings after the first two lockdowns in 2020.

Card Factory, which has more than 1,000 stores across the UK and Ireland, also said online sales have fallen but it still exceeds pre-pandemic levels.

The retailer reported securing increased bank facilities of 225 million pounds ($319.32 million), above the original 200 million pounds facilities it replaces, which it said will provide for its growth strategy in the coming months. This will include capitalising on the trend of more customers moving to its online channels over the past year.

On post-lockdown trends, the company said customers were shopping in stores less frequently, but were still buying more. ($1 = 0.7046 pounds) (Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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