Less than half of Brits aged under 35 buy Christmas cards

December 15, 2017

Being struck off the Christmas card list was once a sign of a friendship turning sour, but now it seems it may just be a sign of the times. According to Mintel’s research on Greetings Cards and Personal Stationery, while 62% of Brits buy Christmas cards, many young consumers are foregoing this festive tradition.

Indeed, while a jolly three in four (75%) of those aged 65+ purchased Christmas cards in the past year*, less than half of those aged 16-24 (43%) and 25-34 (49%) bought a season’s greetings card. And it seems many are drawn away from purchasing Christmas cards due to a feeling of obligation, as 57% of those who have bought greetings cards in the last 12 months* agree that there is social pressure to send greetings cards on certain occasions, rising to three in five (59%) Brits aged 16-44.

Instead, some young Brits are turning to social media to spread festive cheer. Around one in three (34%) Brits aged 25-34 agree that social media is an appropriate way to send greetings cards online, compared to an average of 23%.

Despite young consumers’ lacklustre love for Christmas cards, it seems that those who are purchasing greetings cards are favouring a quality over quantity mindset. Half (51%) of those aged 25-34 who buy greetings cards say it is worth paying more for a high-quality card, above an average of 40%.

And while young consumers are showcasing a more Scrooge-like attitude to festive greetings, sales of Christmas cards continue to rise. According to Mintel research, sales of single Christmas cards have risen by 61% in the past five years, with Brits spending an estimated £225 million in 2016, up from £140 million in 2012.

Samantha Dover, Senior Retail Analyst at Mintel, said:

“Despite ongoing concerns that the greetings card sector is likely to suffer from the rise of digital communication, the market continues to perform well. In a digital world where the tangible is vanishing, consumers are increasingly elevating the value of physical goods and the emotional attachment to sending and receiving post and greetings cards. As a result, greetings card retailers with a bricks-and-mortar presence have a real advantage against the pureplayers and have an opportunity to utilise this by elevating the in-store proposition.”

Indeed, while many are shunning seasonal greetings, there is still a place for handwritten correspondence. Of those who buy greetings cards, almost four in five (79%) think that handwritten greetings cards feel more personal than those sent online. Nevertheless, it seems price sensitivity threatens the category as 74% of those who have bought greetings cards in the last 12 months* say these are often overpriced. Moreover, more than half of UK shoppers (52%) think it can be difficult to find appropriate greetings cards for the recipient, while 43% of consumers think it is difficult to remember dates when greetings cards need to be sent.

“Greetings card retailers have an opportunity to personalise customer service and boost the value of the market by offering more options to customise card designs, alongside giving shoppers date reminders and advice on which cards to buy. Whilst a number of online retailers already offer similar initiatives, retailers that can find a way to provide these services in-store will be best placed to succeed, particularly given that most consumers still only purchase greetings cards in-store.” Samantha continues.

Over half (55%) of Christmas gift buyers** say that shopping for gifts in-store in the run-up to Christmas is too stressful and 51% say that it is difficult to stick to a Christmas budget. Indeed, of the 80% of UK consumers who bought at least some Christmas gifts online in 2016, 35% cited avoiding the crowds as a reason to shop online, 35% mentioned being able to shop when it suits them, while 23% did so to avoid carrying items home. Besides logistical benefits, convenience proves also crucial, as 35% of Brits think prices are cheaper online than in-store.

For others, however, the Christmas shopping trip is a pleasurable experience, with half (50%) agreeing that shopping at Christmas is enjoyable for the festive atmosphere, 36% saying that Christmas shopping is a good way to catch up with friends and family and one in four (25%) agreeing that advice from staff is important when choosing Christmas gifts.

“While half of Brits enjoy the social side of Christmas shopping, for many, Christmas shopping proves a chore. Gift buying is functional and often considered an inconvenience, whereas shopping for oneself is frequently deemed more pleasurable. Overall, the share of shopping that is done online rises sharply in November and December with convenience proving an important driver.” Samantha adds.

Finally, in praise of the paper diary, just one in three (35%) of those who have bought stationery in the last 12 months* say they prefer to use an online calendar than a paper diary, rising to 44% of those aged 16-24. In contrast, 70% of those aged 55+ prefer to use a paper diary than an online calendar.

“While many Brits organise their life electronically, there is still a strong trend towards the traditional paper format, in particular among older Brits.” Samantha concludes.

* May 2017
** Internet users aged 16+ who bought most of their Christmas gifts in-store in 2016

Press copies of Mintel’s Greetings Cards & Personal Stationery Retailing UK 2017 report and interviews with Samantha Dover, Senior Retail Analyst, are available on request from the press office.

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