FOR THE WEEK OF DEC. 20, 2010
More holiday greetings are sent with clicks, not stamps
Find a heartwarming Christmas-related story, which should be easy this week.
Look for holiday coverage, listings or ads with an online element such as a web or email address.
Spot a Christmas item involving a church or other religious theme.
Many families use memory cards instead of greeting cards to share holiday season messages, part of our growing reliance on social media and e-mail to share pictures and shout-outs. Electronic options are just part of the reason behind a drop in hard-copy cards. People are crunched for time. Stamps keep getting costlier. Printed cards, introduced in the 1800s, now seem environmentally unfriendly and so yesterday. Distant family and friends no longer anticipate annual photo cards because they see countless snapshots on Facebook or via e-mail all year. "Compared to these instant forms of communication, addressing a preprinted card and sending it via snail mail seems like an antiquated waste of time," notes marketing executive Pamela Danziger of Stevens, Pa.
Still, nearly 80 percent of those surveyed by the National Retail Federation said they're buying traditional holiday cards this month. But that's down from more than 85 percent in 2006 -- adding to tough times for the Postal Service, which recently announced it had lost $8.5 billion in the last year despite cutting more than 100,000 jobs. Americans mailed more than 1.8 billion Christmas cards last year, according to greeting card industry statistics. That's expected to drop to 1.5 billion this holiday season.
This isn't just a U.S. trend. "Are twentysomethings too cool to go postal?" asks a recent headline in The Irish Times, which reports: "Fewer households in the UK will be sending Christmas cards this year, according to a study by a market-research company."
"Bah-humbug" say purists who believe Christmas -- which celebrates Jesus' birth, after all -- deserves more respect, thoughtfulness and reverence than e-greetings reflect. Some see the trend as further erosion of a religious holiday that has been secularized through spreading use of "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas." (See video below.)
American Greetings, which says the median age of its customers is 47, hopes to lure younger buyers with cards that display digital slide shows and an iPhone app in which people can browse, personalize and send electronic greeting cards. Hallmark saw the writing on the screen years ago and began offering free e-cards in 1999 in hopes that some web visitors will buy a collectible ornament or other gift.
Traditionalist says: "A lot of my friends aren't sending real cards this year.I suspect every year it will decline, just like the rest of Western civilization." -- Peg Willingham of Falls Church, Va.
Non-sender says: "There are so many other ways to keep in touch. I stay in touch with e-mail and Facebook. It's an easy way to quickly see what people are doing." -- Erika Maschmeyer, 30, of Chicago
Merchant says: "There will always be people who are trying to keep up the standards and the old traditions. I think there will always be a need for what we do." -- Ellen Prague, owner of the card-selling Paper Shop in Winter Park, Fla.
Front Page Talking Points
is written by
Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2013
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