Following Royal Mail’s recent announcement that the price for first and second class stamps are to rise in a few weeks, card retailers especially are concerned about the negative impact this will have on Christmas card sending.
As of March 26, the price of a first class stamp will rise 2p to 67p, with a second class stamp also rising 2p to 58p. In its official press statement the Royal Mail stressed that: “Royal Mail’s stamp prices rate among the best value in Europe. The UK also has one of the highest quality of service specifications of any major European country.”
This may be so, but what impact could the price rises have on card sending? Chris Beards, owner of multi award-winning Mantons Cards on the Isle of Man thinks the biggest effect will be at Christmas, especially for people who send cards around the world. “My concern is that it may encourage some people to stop sending Christmas cards altogether and make a donation to charity instead. I’m unclear why people do this for Christmas cards instead of say forgoing Christmas pudding or turkey and I’m not sure what the greeting card industry can do to stop it but it could become a threat to Christmas card sales. The way the economy is locally, any price rises seem to have a negative effect at the moment.”
He accepts that the UK postal service is world class and very few countries can offer the service and while customers may gasp at the price of a stamp, 67p to get a letter across the country in a day is pretty good value.
The GCA’s ceo Sharon Little is also concerned about the impact of the price rise on the Christmas card front, but believes the true ‘value’ of sending and receiving cards the rest of the year should win out. “A rise in postage prices is never ideal, as the general public’s perception is that stamp prices are high. We are, however, only talking about a 2p rise, which is not a big increase. I think it’s still great value and shouldn’t affect everyday or spring seasons’ card sales, but it will be felt more keenly at Christmas.”
Managing director of card publisher Blue Eyed Sun, Jeremy Corner knows all too well about the price of postage, having sent hundreds of cards last year in his Greeting Card Project. “The price of stamps is definitely high,” says Jeremy. “I do often hear people complain about the cost of postage. Having said that, for those of us that love to feel close to the people that matter most to us there is nothing that has quite the same power as a hand written card. So we will continue to post cards and pay the nominal increase as I’m sure will others who really understand how special greeting cards can be to those they care about.”