To send an e-card or an actual card

There was an interesting news story on the BBC website about whether Welsh politicians were sending Christmas cards in 2013.

Of the 60 Welsh politicians surveyed more than one third said they were not sending a traditional Christmas card. Instead they opted for an electronic version or donating to charity.

I wonder then if the Welsh assembly members are out of step with most of us. According to a Royal Mail survey 80% would rather receive a traditional card than an electronic version.

But I understand the politician’s dilemma. Whilst the average cost* of a Christmas card is £1.63, they will be held to closer scrutiny if their seasons greetings budget balloons too much. Unlike most of us where we might send 19 cards on average, a politician’s may have a more sizeable address list in case of Conservative Darren Millar – he sends out 500 cards.

Despite the interest in e-card the Christmas card business is still in rude health. In 2012 1.8billion Christmas Cards were sent. This works out at around £50m per year – I’m not quite sure how they calculate the figure.

Should I be tempted to send an e-card or send a festive poke on Facebook?

Take great care before you do. Whilst it is tempting to save money or the trees, try and guess how the recipient might feel.

Perhaps 5 years ago it might have been cool. But taking the time to go to the shops and buy stamps and cards might say more about you or your business rather than your face on a dancing elf.

As always I would be interested in your thoughts.

*Source:Royal Mail Press Release

Christmas at Liberty of London

It was fascinating watching the Liberty of London, programme on Channel 4 (episode 3).  It gave a real insight into the micro-managing of the store at Christmas time.

If you get the chance it is well worth watching.  Channel  4oD website.

Detail is high on the agenda.  Regularly the store manager would walk the store to ensure that everything looks exactly right and projects the correct image of the store.

Empty shelves are a big no-no. In particular the Christmas baubles were almost sold out.  This prompted a meeting with the Managing Director and extra baubles order toot-sweet.  It struck me that the main thrust for ordering them was that it made the shelves look unkempt rather than a boost to profitability.

Such is the attention to detail within the store that there was a training session on how to dress a shopping bag.  It’s not enough to be excellent…we need to be exceeding  excellence.

Another nice example of the special treatment that patrons of the store receive is staff refer to shoppers as clients.  And in a lot of cases they know these individuals on first name terms.  And for ‘clients’ that spend more than £10,000 per year they receive a free hamper worth over £700.

Christmas, as we know is a hugely important time for the High Street.  Liberty of London, is no exception.  Their expected takings over this period accounts for 20% of annual turnover.

For some businesses if Christmas sales don’t materialise and according to the ONS and British Retail Consortium, sales are down, then January and February may well involve calling in the administrators.

This year we saw several businesses disappear from the High Street, they included;

  • HMV,
  • Comet
  • Game
  • Blacks

2014 will no doubt see a few more stores disappearing.