Greetings cards – online or in-store

Greetings cards – online or in-store

Happy Birthday…Get well soon…Good luck in your new job.  Greetings cards have been a regular feature in sharing our thoughts and feeling since the 1850’s.

For 150 years the process of buying a card and sending it hasn’t much changed. You would pop into a shop, buy your card, think of some kind words, post it and job done.

But with the advent of the internet you can now buy your cards online rather than in-store.

Since 2000, pundits have been prophesising that the Internet would kill off most industries, including the greeting cards. This mantra seemed to carry more weight, when Clinton Cards was put into Administration in 2012.  But what is interesting, is that sales of single cards in shops, garage and supermarkets is still growing.  The growth may not be huge, but it is still there.

In 2011, sales rose by 3% compared with 2009.  Take Christmas Cards.  A Royal Mail survey, highlighted that 80% of people would prefer to receive a traditional card rather than a digital version.  That’s a no-brainer.  There is almost no sentiment in an e-card, to me I can’t help wonder that it sounds lazy.

But, that is only part of the equation.  Whilst the internet has not destroyed the industry, it may be disrupting buying habits.  Back in 2000 Moonpig was launched and it has been offering personalised greetings cards International cards.  Rather than paying for air postage, why not send your card through Moonpig’s Australian branch – clever.

Oh…the price of stamps these days

The price of stamps have steadily risen over the years, since 2000, the price of a first class stamp has more than doubled.  That I’m afraid will be a constant.  Adding 60p for a first class stamp, or 50p for a second class stamp to the cost of sending a card can be expensive, especially around Christmas time.

There is no doubt that the market is presenting challenges.  Pressures from online, the cost of stamps and digital all bear down on independent retailers.  But it doesn’t have to be all bad news.  Clintion Cards may have gone…sales growth continues and that means there is more to share around.

Online or On the High Street. It’s not a war – it should be about working together

One again the High Street has come under fire.  Shortly after the news that HMV, Blockbusters and Jessops have slipped into administration has come the announcement from Mark Prisk – the local growth minister “that our high streets will need to change to prosper”.

As long as I can remember, the High Street has been ‘under attack’.  The introduction of online shops and the 4 year economic down turn has accelerated this.  With no signs of a changing economy, despite the New Bank of England’s Governor my worry, a view supported by KPMG’s Head of Retail in the UK, is that belt tightening will still be the order of the day.

One of the recently announced issues that the Future of High Street Forum will look at is; “Making it easier for empty spaces to be filled by pop-up shops”.  On paper this sounds a good idea,

Some of the pop-up shops I have seen look terrific.  They have an edgy look and feel and the products may be unique and unavailable elsewhere.

Others on the other hand are cheap looking and unappealing. I worry that pop up shops are not a big enough pull.

Also up for discussion is converting yet more of our space into residential property.  I really think this should be considered with care. Our High Street includes a variety of businesses from shop, café’s bars and restaurants.  Residential properties will indeed increase footfall with town centers, but is it the needed footfall that spends?

Furthermore, I read a report from the retail think tank, which discussed incorporating online into the retail process.  This will work for the big brands but for the smaller independents this is simply cost s prohibitive,

My view is that a blueprint for success will include a healthy mixture of anchor stores such as the major high street chains and lots of independents.  Transport and rates need to be part of the discussion.

It’s clear that no-one wants the High streets to die. There is a need to try and encourage businesses and shoppers back.

But it shouldn’t be a war between online and on-the-High Street, or car parking, business rates or the weather.  This is a complex issue, not one thing will cure the problem and not one person will have all the answers to be a fruitful discussion nothing should “off-the table”

Wire Fittings has been providing displays stands to independent retails and major high street chains for years.