The tight restrictions placed on close personal contacts during this Covid-19 epidemic has had one positive side-effect: a boom in sales of Christmas cards.
The greetings cards industry in general had been experiencing a decline in sales since before the turn of the century, as electronic messages and apps took the place of physical mail (now know derisively as snail-mail) and particularly greetings cards.
For the world’s largest brand, Hallmark, the increase in sales since the start of the pandemic has reached 185%, De Morgen reports. True to the times, however, those sales are in the company’s webshop.
“What is particularly striking is that the younger target group, between the ages of 18 and 35, is discovering during this period that sending a Christmas card actually does not take that much effort,” said Caroline Piot, Hallmark’s season manager for the Benelux.
As well as a lack of other means of contact, people are finding themselves with more time to sit down and write and address cards by hand.
Even the postal authority Bpost is getting in on the act. The Mobile Postcard app was originally intended for sending holiday postcards, but is now being used for Christmas cards.
The app allows you to send a photo or collage, together with a message, from your smartphone to any address in Belgium. The recipient receives a real card, delivered through their mailbox. The prices: €2.70 for five credits or €2.25 for ten, can compete with anything the shops have to offer, and are entirely personalised.
Herman Konings is a theoretical psychologist and head of a marketing and trend-watching agency in Antwerp, and is not surprised by the trend, he told De Morgen.
“The need for a warm society is greater than ever during this period. A message on social media is sympathetic, but it’s over quickly. With a physical Christmas card you show that you want to make extra effort for others.”
A card you can hold in your hand and put up on the mantelpiece evokes a sensation of nostalgia, which could be the defining emotion of the Christmas spirit.
“In response to the many digital impulses, people occasionally revert to a tactile past. Sending cards or letters to each other therefore feels familiar,” he said.