Wednesday, 22 December 2010

The Future of Christmas Cards

Each year I intend to send fewer Christmas cards, to stop sending them to people I haven't been in touch with, or even given a thought to, for years - apart from the annual Christmas card! But then they send me one and I hastily return the favour and so it goes on...

Thinking about this, my curiosity has just led me to revisit the statistics about Christmas card sales on the UK Greeting Card Association website hoping to discover whether Christmas cards sales are increasing  - or not! I didn't find and answer but I noticed that the most recent figures for the sales of Christmas cards are as follows:

  • Christmas cards accounted for 45% of all the total volume of greeting card sales.

  • Christmas cards accounted for only 18% of the total value of greeting card sales.

I wonder whether this is because most of the Christmas cards we send are in packs of 5,10 or even 50 and work out at a much lower price per card than other greeting cards? I know that I only buy the more expensive individual cards for my immediate family and send everyone else a card from a pack, which keeps the cost down considerably!

Many of the cards we buy in packs are Charity cards and they are generally excellent designs, good quality card and very good value! Apparently £50,000,000 is raised annually for charity through the sale of Christmas cards.

I assume that this means that I am more likely to sell my birthday cards and greeting cards for all sorts of other occasions locally at £1.80 each than my Christmas cards at the same price. My experience so far has been that a Christmas card needs to be particularly special if it’s to command a higher price than the cards sold in packs. For instance, a local newsagent - not the one who sold my Red Dragons! – quickly sold out of the cards that I made from my photos of the snow in our local park and around the church and tithe barn, probably because I added greetings ‘from Abergavenny’. (By comparison, there seems to have been a far smaller demand for my other Christmas Cards, even when I added the greeting in Welsh, as below, though I've yet to discover how many have been sold in our local Art Shop and Gallery!)

So should we be sending so many Christmas cards?
The Royal Mail delivers an average of 17 Christmas cards per man, woman and child! The staggering figure of 150 million Christmas cards and packets are handled by Royal Mail each day in the run-up to Christmas, resulting in an estimated 1 billion greeting cards being thrown away after Christmas! To me this seems an awful waste of some beautifully designed cards and I always do my bit for recycling by trimming the best of them to make into gift tags for the following years.

In recent years we have all been urged to recycle our Christmas cards by taking them to various recycling schemes such as the ones provided by the supermarket, Tesco. Another suggestion from those who are trying to reduce the post-Christmas refuse mountain, is that we should send more e-cards instead of paper Christmas cards. I think this could be a good idea in some cases, though there are still many people I know who don’t use a computer at all – and I do think that most of us still enjoy having ‘the real thing’ on display at Christmas time.

But when I’ve watched children – grandchildren and pupils – opening their Christmas cards, I’ve noticed that for the most part they are barely afforded a glance before being discarded in favour of getting on with opening the gift! At such times, the thought has crossed my mind that we might as well skip the greeting card, saving both money and paper to be recycled! But of course, such thoughts are verging on heresy to a designer of Greeting Cards, who enjoys creating them and depends on selling as many as possible of them!

Maybe, sometime in the future, e-cards will completely replace the real paper cards and the best of them will be paid for, like these gorgeous animations from Jacqui Lawson?

What do you think? 

Would you be prepared to do without paper Christmas Cards for the sake of the environment and to cut the cost of Chrismas?



Country Mouse Studio said...

Email cards are favorite, postage in Canada is ridiculously high.

Judy Adamson said...

Thank you for your comment, Carole. (Sorry to have only just seen it!) Postage is a very significant part of the cost of sending paper cards here in the UK too. And it's due to increase again soon! It seems to me that with the competition from emails and e-cards, it ought to be reduced, not increased!

Jayne said...

I love to receive Christmas cards and display them, so I will continue to send cards. It seems that Christmas cards, and charities sending begging letters are the only things keeping the U.S. postal service going these days.

Judy Adamson said...

Me too, Jayne!

Apparently junk mail is what keeps our Royal Mail going!