Diwali – the Hindu festival of light, which has just taken place – is growing in popularity in the UK every year and it’s having a positive knock-on effect on greeting cards as well.
Rajeev Arora, founder of Davora, which publishes cards for many ethnic festivals and special occasions, including Diwali, shared his take on the upsurge in participation for this religious occasion: “Diwali does appear to be growing every year. Some 40,000 people turned up for the Diwali Lights switch on in Leicester, and for the first time the London Eye was lit up for Diwali too.”
On the Diwali greeting card front, while it was too soon to crunch the numbers, Rajeev’s gut feeling was that sales were up. “Almost all the high street chains were on board, and we picked up a number of new independents this year too.”
As Trish Corner, buyer of Card Galore commented, while Diwali is still a minor season for the chain, “we do like to have an offering of between four and eight designs for our customers, as they have come to expect that we stock cards for the religious festivals.”
From an indie’s perspective, Manpreet Grewal, owner of Gifts and More Gifts in Uxbridge says: “We had an unbelievable response from our Diwali cards this year. We’ve always stocked cards for Diwali, but have noticed that the demand is increasing each year. We get neighbours coming in to buy for neighbours and that kind of thing.”
Over at House of Cards, it too ensures that it caters for Diwali, displaying a handful of card designs at the till to bring the event to front of mind in the run up.
In addition to more widespread participation by retailers is how UK consumers are responding to this as a card sending event in the UK.
Raj states, “One of our bellwether tests is how many cards we sell direct to consumer via our website. This year we relaunched our website, which has had a massive positive effect – Diwali sales have more doubled from the same period last year. While this could be down to having a better website, it does show an underlying demand for Diwali cards.”
A leading council member of the GCA, Raj was all ears when Carly Pearson, card buyer of Sainsbury’s spoke at this week’s AGM Conference about its pledge for ensuring “inclusivity” on its card racks, serving in an “increasingly diverse population” but feeling that more should be done.
As she highlighted, the current UK population above the age of 16 stands at 51 million with 9 million of these identifying “themselves as originating from a non-white ethnic group.”
While she told the packed audience that Sainsbury’s does “take part in religious events such as Eid and Diwali” she pointed out that its customers who identify as ‘non-white ethnicity’ also participate in major card sending events, such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Prompting how ground should be gained, Carly added: “At present we don’t place any focus on a specific ethnicity within either of these events. I feel that this is something we should all question ourselves as to whether we are truly doing the right thing here?”