In festive season, greeting cards also victims of economic slump

Wednesday, 31 December 2008, 10:58 Hrs
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New Delhi: Gone are the days you would spend hours selecting that perfect greeting card, saying just the right words. You would rather go the SMS way for a quicker and more economical way to wish a "Happy New Year".

But for non-government organisations (NGOs) like Child Relief and You (CRY) and HelpAge, for whom their cards are an important source of funds, this trend has had adverse effects.

According to Kapil Kaul, country head for advocacy, communication and resource, HelpAge India, the extent of dip in sales of their New Year greeting cards has been unexpected and left them stunned.

"Sales this year are not as per expectations. We had expected a 10-15 percent dip because of the financial meltdown, but not to this extent," Kaul told IANS. With the financial meltdown hitting the markets, companies have been placing fewer orders for greetings cards, in a bid to cut costs, he said.

Like HelpAge, which works for the elderly, CRY, working for child rights, has also been hit because of this trend.

"There has been an overall fall in sales this year because of both the financial crisis and rising popularity of e-greetings and SMS," CRY's spokesperson said, but, like Kaul, declined comment on how much money her organisation earns from greeting cards.

A similar trend has also been reported by companies like Archies and Hallmark, which estimate the greeting cards market in India at around 300 crore (3 billion or $60 million), of which the unorganised sector accounts for a 40-percent share.

According to the leading industry lobby, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham), its members have resorted to a 35-percent cut in orders for greeting cards.

"Bulk orders by corporates drive the seasonal sales of items like greeting cards. But this has dropped sharply this year. Companies are resorting to cost-cutting in these turbulent times," said a spokesperson for the association.

According to Stuti Goswami, marketing executive of a lifestyle store in the South Extension Market in the capital, sales were also down for calendars and other New Year-related merchandise.

"Corporate houses purchased a whole lot of items in bulk for gifts. But this year sales have dropped considerably," she said.

Some corporate houses said they were also refraining from sending out greeting cards this year to express solidarity with the victims of the Mumbai terror attacks last month.

Said another executive in the human resource development department in a power company: "It is also more economical and environment-friendly to send greetings through SMS."

But not everyone is missing the cards. Said Aditi Sinha, an airline executive: "I think people now are more concerned about holding on to their jobs than missing the New Year goodies."
Source: IANS
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