By Elliot Furniss
Monday, December 31, 2012
DESPITE new claims that people have sent more Christmas cards this year than in 2011, a Suffolk charity says many have actually cut back on the festive tradition as they continue to feel the pinch.
Royal Mail has recently increased the price of a first-class stamp from 46p to 60p and second-class stamps have gone up from 36p to 50p, which has led some to make the reluctant decision to cut back on their seasonal mail and look to electronic or digital alternatives.
Despite a special offer to people on low income to buy stamps at last year’s prices, Age UK Suffolk says it is disappointed that the cost of a second-class stamp has been set so high.
“We welcome the Christmas initiative on offer from Royal Mail this year,” said Helen Taylor, from Age UK Suffolk.
“This gives people on low-income benefits, including Pension Credit, the chance to buy stamps at Christmas 2011 prices.
“I am sure that some older people have taken advantage of this but I think there are many others who will be considering cutting down the number of cards they post this year due to increased costs.
“Many older people do not have access to the internet and so cannot benefit from this cheap and convenient alternative way of sending greetings to friends and family.
“Age UK continues to be concerned about the rising cost of second-class stamps, while we understand that there is a need for compromise between full price deregulation and ensuring that the postal service remains affordable, Age UK is disappointed that the cap for the second price stamp has been set so high.”
Under the Royal Mail scheme those who receive Pension Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Incapacity Benefit or Unemployability Supplement have been able to buy up to 36 stamps in either books of six or 12 at Christmas 2011 prices.
Royal Mail says a recent study shows that people had been planning to send an average of 19 cards this year – up from 15 last year.
The Greeting Card Association Market Report 2012 found that a quarter of those surveyed said they aimed to make more of an effort to send more Christmas cards this year than last, because they feel it is what the festive season is about.
Sharon Little, chief executive of the Greeting Card Association, said: “This research confirms that cards remain at the centre of all life’s special celebrations.
“Christmas is all about caring, sending real cards to friends and family is far more meaningful than any form of electronic communication – you can’t put a Facebook message or an e-card on your mantelpiece.”