Sometimes a holidayZoom call or an emoji-filled text is not enough. For birthdays, other special occasions or for conveying encouragement, only a card will suffice. Although the COVID-19 crisis inspired many people to shift to digital communications, the pandemic also made people seek greeting cards when they stayed home, and continue to send cards after stay-at-home orders were lifted.
According to the U.S. Postal Service Household Diary Study, the volume of personal correspondence, or household-to-household mail, has been decreasing for years. The pandemic didn’t help. From fiscal year 2019 to 2020, mailings of invitations and announcements declined during the pandemic as events were canceled. Other communications such as letters also declined as people reached out to each other through emails and texts.
On the bright side, one segment that saw an increase was non holiday greeting cards, from 797 million pieces in 2019 to 925 million pieces in 2020. Now companies are trying to continue that momentum.
Across the Miles
According to the Greeting Card Association, birthday cards are the best-selling card type, accounting for more than half of all cards sold. About two-thirds of birthday cards are mailed. As the pandemic unfolded, people were also sending notes of encouragement, Get Well and other greeting cards.
“More cards in the care and concern category sold during the pandemic, as people sought to connect and send love to friends and family they weren’t able to see in person,” said Nora Weiser, executive director of the Greeting Card Association, which moved its offices from Washington, D.C., to the Denver area in 2020.
Another pandemic-related trend, Weiser pointed out, was that when smaller, independent retailers closed during the lockdowns, consumers purchased cards at grocery stores and drug stores, since those remained open as essential. “As with many purchases, they also turned to buying cards online,” she said. “Some publishers pivoted quickly and set up B-to-C options online to sell directly to consumers."
A 2021 Hallmark Insights & Analytics survey found that greeting cards, compared to other forms of communication, have the highest growth potential post-pandemic. The majority of the 10,000 survey participants believed the impact of cards is worth the time and effort, and more than half of the consumers believe cards are more meaningful than other forms of communication. “Finding ways to show people you care every day is a trend we are continuing to see,” McAnarney said.
Keeping in Touch
That attitude is true for consumers of all ages. The GCA also reported that millennials spend more dollars on greeting cards in the United States on an annual basis than baby boomers, averaging $6 per card, although baby boomers still purchase more units. Millennials have been steadily increasing their purchases of cards for years, as they enter the life phase of purchasing a home, getting married and having children.