What you need to know

Despite competition from digital communications and social media, sales of greetings cards are holding up well. Sales of single cards (not including boxed) grew from £1,428 million in 2013 to £1,456 million in 2014, up 2%.

The most important segment of the market is birthday cards and retailers have the advantage that these are not seasonal and sell all the year through. Spring season cards represent extra sales opportunities, especially for Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day, but retailers face the difficulty of wastage. Sales of Christmas cards are dominated by boxed cards which have fared poorly. Although the cost per card is cheap, postage prices have risen sharply, putting people off sending large volumes of cards through the post so this segment of the market has seen falling sales.

Print-on-demand services, particularly Moonpig and Funky Pigeon, have grown but remain relatively small within the market as a whole. Alternative ways of sending a greeting, through social media or text message, are a competitive threat for the conventional card industry and could forge long-term changes to people’s attitudes towards giving or sending paper greetings cards.

Products covered in this report

The report covers the UK market for greetings cards and gifts. The greetings card market is defined as including cards for Christmas, birthdays, spring season occasions (ie Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day and Easter) and other everyday occasions (anniversaries, good luck, get well and blank cards etc). It includes cards sent online as well as paper greetings cards.

Gifts are more difficult to define and include anything that people buy to give to someone else. This can mean that a gift is anything from a trinket or novelty from under £5 through to an iPad or even a holiday. The report looks at attitudes towards purchasing gifts and trends in spending, rather than trying to accurately estimate the scale of the gift market. We include tokens and gift cards as well as specialist gift experiences.

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