Major greetings card industry updates

The Art File

The UK Greeting Card Association (GCA) has revealed its latest market report, covering British greeting card sales for 2016 compared with 2015. The GCA found from its confidential survey of members that industry sales have reached their highest value ever, bringing the UK greeting card market value to  £1.75 billion at retail.


The period covered in the report is January -December 2016 and assumes that data submitted by GCA members accounts for 73% by value and 64% by volume of the UK greeting card market, which takes into account the market share of multiple retail giant Card Factory, online sales and non-member card publishers.

It has been found that the total retail value of single cards sales in the UK reached over £1.52bn in 2016, with 881m single cards being sold in this period. When compared with 2015 value is up 2.5% whilst volume is virtually equal at 0.1%.


According to the survey everyday cards account for 77 per cent of the total retail value for all single cards bought in the UK, making the ARP for an everyday card now £1.68, compared to £1.64. Sales volumes dipped by 0.1% in the same period.

Everyday cards are now worth £1.178m, an increase of £28.7m from 2015, with sales of ages, occasions and relations showing the greatest growth to £680.6m.

The report does not include data on Christmas boxes/packs, as this is too fragmented a sector to rely purely on GCA members’ data. An estimate of 900 million cards at a value of £230 million have been included in the overall figure of £1.75 billion to cover this product area.

Christmas Single cards account for 12% of total retail value for all cards, with ARP of £1.90 which increased from £1.83 in 2015.

Spring Seasons account for 11% of total sales with a value of £161.6 million. The ARP has remained the same as in 2015, at £1.97.

The value of Mother’s Day cards is £62.1 million with an ARP of £2.09; Valentine’s Day has been valued at £43.7 million with an ARP of £2.34, Father’s Day value at £41.4 million with an ARP of £1.78 and Easter value (singles and boxes/packs) is £14.4 million with an ARP of £1.36.

The report has been published as the industry comes together to celebrate Thinking of You Week (September 25 – October 2), a GCA-led initiative now in its fourth year, which encourages people to send cards to different people throughout the occasion.

Sarah Wilkins Co

Just a Card Day, meanwhile, is launching for the first time on Thursday September 28 with a charity Christmas card designed by British actor, Benedict Cumberbatch. Benedict designed the Christmas card to raise funds for the UK based children’s art educational charity Anno’s Africa. Proceeds from card sales will support their work with children living in poverty in Kenya and rural Malawi.

The volunteer-led campaign emphasises that every card sale, however small, is vital to independent shops, galleries, artists and designers. The campaign began three years ago when artist Sarah Hamilton read a quote by a shopkeeper who’d been forced to close: “If everyone who’d complimented our beautiful gallery had bought ‘just a card’ we’d still be open”. The message is that if people value independent shops they should support them with purchases.

Outside the independent fold, Card Factory has reported a significant slump after years of unbridled growth and seen investors rush to exit.

Shares in the retail giant plummeted 11% – down 40.4p to 314.6p – in the wake of risings costs resulting from the weak pound and implementation of the National Living Wage in its 895-store chain.

First half profits fell 14.1% to £23.2 million, although same-store sales rose by 3.1%. Overall revenues were up 6.1% to £179.6 million.

Meanwhile independent greeting card retail chain Scribbler has opened its biggest ever store in Rathbone Place, London, right on the edge of Oxford Street.  The 650 sq ft unit will allow the industry stalwart to display a much larger selection of its own brand product.

There haBlue Mountain Artsve also been major recent developments with industry suppliers. One of the world’s largest card and stationer publishers, IG Design Group plc, has signed a contract to acquire the trade and certain assets of Biscay Greetings Pty Limited, a leading greetings card and paper products business based in Australia. Completion will take place on 8 January 2018.

Here on home shores, following its recent acquisition of Is It Art and a full review of all business functions, Carte Blanche Group has announced the closure of the Is It Art office in Warwick in a plan which brings all administrative and customer service functions under one roof.

The announcement follows the recent acquisition of Is It Art? by Carte Blanche over the summer. The exceptional Is it Art? Portfolio includes globally renowned sentiment brand, Blue Mountain Arts, licensing greeting card specialist, Gemma International, calendar giant, Danilo and legendary humour card publisher, Emotional Rescueacquisition of Is It Art?


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