Remember those times when with every approaching festival a visit to the neighbourhood gifts store was mandatory? Other than gifts, picking out meaningful or funny greeting cards was a prerequisite. But that practice, apparently, is fading. Technology, it seems, has taken over.
Mary Nitya, a college student, is one of those who have given up the habit of handpicking colourful greeting cards for friends and family. “I prefer wishing through SMS and we gift each other but greeting cards are rarely purchased,” she says.
A majority of the card shop owners too admit that they have been witnessing a decline in sales in the last five years, while some of them said that the decline in demand was specific to Deepavali.
“The slump in the sales has been evident in the last three years. In the last two months, we have sold just 30 Deepavali cards whereas on other occasions, including Christmas, the sales are tremendous with most of the customers buying about 25 cards each. Only a few corporates buy greeting cards, while the others prefer lamps, household items and chocolates as gifts,” said Keerti Sood, one of the owners of Allmark Drop In at R.T. Nagar.
Premchand Agarwal, owner of Paper and Gifts Centre at Kaggadasapura, echoed this.
“We have stopped displaying Deepavali greeting cards as last year there were just two or three sales,” he says.
However, Sanjay Gangwani, owner of the Archies outlet on Commercial Street, claimed that the sales have increased at his shop. “In our outlet, this year, the sales of the Deepavali greeting cards have increased by more than 25 per cent and we are doing well,” he says.
Gifting items such as scented candles and household items have become popular. “Show pieces, photo frames, candle stands and perfumes are trending now,” said B. Revati, Hallmark Cards and Gift Centre.
Meanwhile, a survey conducted by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India corroborates the declining sales. According to a survey conducted in September-October this year, demand for Deepavali greeting cards has dropped by over 70 per cent in the last five years.
The survey was carried out in Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Pune, Chandigarh and Dehradun.
Nearly 80 per cent of the respondents said that that they used to buy many greeting cards ahead of Deepavali every year. But now, they prefer sending e-cards or text messages to everyone as it is more convenient and less time consuming.
The Postal Department too is witnessing a decline in the movement of Deepavali postcards and greetings cards, the survey reveals.
Earlier, the Postal Department (on an average, across India) used to handle about 8,000 postcards and greeting cards per day during Deepavali, but now the numbers have come down to about 500 cards per day.