We have come a long way since the first commercial Christmas card was produced at a volume of 1000 in 1843. According to the Greeting Card Association, the single greeting card market volume in 2012 will be 952 million with a market value of £1.38bn. The average retail price for a Christmas card is now £1.63.
The Royal Mail and Greeting Card Association have recently published some findings related to card sending in 2012. Given the recent price rises in the price of a stamp (30 percent increase for first class and 40 percent for second class), the expectation is that this will have a negative effect especially in the challenging economic environment we find ourselves in the UK. Saga have released an article that states that 1 in 2 over 50’s will send fewer Christmas cards due to the price increases and that 91% of the 10,000 polled said that Christmas represents the only time they will get in touch with some people on their list. Some of the findings from Saga are at odds to the Royal Mail’s however, whilst Sage predicts a drop in card sending, The Royal Mail were expecting an increase.
The findings are not all doom and gloom however and have a positive thing to say about the greeting card market in 2012. Some of the more interesting points were that 80% of people prefer a traditional card over a digital gesture such as an e-card or Facebook message with a quarter of those suggesting that they would feel such gestures as being impersonal. 25 per cent of people intended to make more of an effort to send Christmas cards according to the Royal Mail. The average person is also thought to send 19 cards this year which represents a 27% increase.
The general feeling amongst independent retailers is that the market is currently challenging with existing pressures continuing to create problems such as supermarkets and cut cost multiples, the growth of the E-card market and in particular the rise the cost of postage in 2012 leading toward a downward trend in sales volume. This is not the rule however as some retailers are experiencing year on year growth.