The GCA is spearheading a campaign to ensure that vital elements of Royal Mail’s postal service that are crucial to the greeting card industry remain in place, urging publishers, retailers and trade suppliers to get involved by writing to their MPS as well as to Royal Mail and Ofcom.
Amanda Fergusson, ceo of the GCA launched into action as soon as she heard that Royal Mail and Ofcom are to review the regulatory obligations under the Universal Service Operation, which includes the ‘one price goes anywhere in the UK’ stamp charge, six days a week delivery/collection and a next day delivery option. The reason for the review is partly due to the increase of parcel deliveries (up 34%) while letter post (which includes greeting cards) has seen a decline of 28% (equating to some 1.1 billion items of post) year on year.
“The importance of being able to easily send greeting cards, and know when they will arrive, have been key to the ongoing engagement of the British with greeting cards, and are essential factors in the continued success of industry,” highlights Amanda. “Our postal service is the envy of the world, and it is no coincidence that we send more cards per capita than another other nation, resulting in a world-leading greeting card industry. We need to make our voice heard in order to protect the efficient and reliable way the public can send greeting cards to loved ones and friends. We know from discussions with our counterparts in other countries that reduction of mail services, and the complicating of pricing, has resulted in a huge drop-off in card sending.”
In a letter to both Royal Mail and Ofcom executives, Amanda stressed the importance of the UK greeting card industry to the social fabric of our society, drawing on the findings of Royal Mail research as to how the receiving of cards has proved to help mental wellbeing.
‘The British spend £1.7bn a year on greeting cards, with growth seen for the last four years among the 18-34 year olds who are sending more cards than a generation ago,’ wrote Amanda in her letters. ‘The current COVID-19 lockdown has seen a big increase in generic card sending, and reaching out to loved ones, illustrated by Captain Tom’s 160,000 cards. This is particularly important for the older and isolated members of the population.’
While Royal Mail refutes that it is not intending to withdraw from the ‘one price goes anywhere’ obligation at the same time it has openly stated that it is seeking ‘regulatory change’, which brings into question frequency and timing.
“We cannot take anything for granted. I urge all publishers, retailers and trade suppliers to write to their MPs, Royal Mail and Ofcom to make your concerns heard.
We should all seek to maintain three core principles of Royal Mail’s service we see as being sacrosanct:
- A simple ‘one price goes anywhere’ mail system,
- Six days a week delivery/collection,
- Next day delivery,” stressed Amanda. “Our industry is a great British creative success story, directly responsible for the employment of hundreds of thousands of people, and indirectly for many more. The products we create add so much to people’s lives. We need to safeguard they will continue to bring joy through the letterboxes.”
Adding his encouragement for those in the greeting card community to join the campaign, Paul Woodmansterne, chairman of Woodmansterne Publications and long serving GCA council member (who was heavily involved with the Royal Mail during the transition to PiP, ensuring that square cards were not penalised as they are in other parts of the globe) said: “It is important to keep the potential threat to our survival in the minds and thoughts of Royal Mail, the regulators, the politicians, and the public. Remember, people don’t send birthday cards in Italy principally because they can have no idea when their card might arrive!”
As part of the campaign, this Thursday (22 October), Amanda will meet with Fiona Hamilton, head of public policy at Royal Mail to put across the industry’s concerns.
Amanda will report on any updates at the GCA Conference and AGM which, as reported on PG Buzz last week (https://www.pgbuzz.net/book-now-for-gcas-digital-conference-and-agm-on-november-4/) is now taking place digitally on November 4.
To book your tickets click here
Top: Safeguarding a highly regular and efficient postal service from Royal Mail is of paramount importance to the UK greeting card industry.