Deck the Box

By Published on .

Clean off the fireplace mantle and make room for those holiday cards. If trends hold, Americans will send out more than 4.5 billion stamped cards and letters this holiday season, plus an additional 138 million parcels, comprising 28% of the annual mail volume, according to the U.S. Postal Service. Their holiday season begins when the Thanksgiving turkey is barely a sandwich and doesn't end until we sing "Auld Lang Syne." This season, Americans are expected to buy more than 2.6 billion Christmas cards (averaging about 38 cards per sender) and another 48 million cards celebrating Thanksgiving, Chanukah, and New Year's. Who's doing most of the licking and sticking? Annually, middle-aged women buy more than 80 percent of all greeting cards, at an average cost of $2.00.

Season's Greetings

- Half of the 6.8 billion greeting cards sold in 1998 were seasonal cards.

Top-ten holidays, by number of cards sold:

- Christmas 2.6 billion

- Valentine's Day 900 million

- Mother's Day 150 million

- Easter 120 million

- Father's Day 95 million

- Graduation 60 million

- Thanksgiving 30 million

- Halloween 25 million

- St. Patrick's Day 15 million

- Jewish New Year 10 million

The average American receives 24 cards per year - seven of which are birthday cards.

It's in the mail!

- The average American receives 22 pieces of mail every week.

- Personal mail has decreased from 1.6 to 1.2 pieces of mail received each week from 1996 to 1997.

- 82 percent of households send packages via the U.S.P.S.

- 97.2 percent of households pay bills by mail; only 0.8 percent pay by personal computer.

Naughty or nice?

Indexed spending on Chanukah and Christmas cards: Index

- Women, aged 25-54 122

- Men, aged 25-54 75

- Aged 65+ 119

- Aged 18-24 71

- Post-graduate degree 119

- < High school 82

- HH Income > $75K 114

- HH Income < $10K 80

- Married 106

- Single 80

- Engaged 79

- Married, aged 18-34 with children under 6 85 with children, 6-17 100

(Index of 100 = national average)

A lost art? Not yet 4

Number of stationery stores:

- 1999 6,750

- 1990 6,440

- 1980 6,560

- 1970 5,780

Sources

1) Greeting Card Association

2) U.S.P.S. Household Diary Study, 1997

3) Cyber Dialogue, January 1999

4) Audits & Surveys Worldwide

5) Mediamark Research, Inc.

6) U.S. Postal Service

U.S.P.S. Volume (in billions)

First Class Priority Mail

1998 101.7 1.16

1997 99.7 1.1

1996 98.2 0.9

More e-mail

- 86% of online users use e-mail.

- 15 million people subscribe to a free e-mail service.

- More than 7 million online shoppers purchased gifts or flowers over the Internet.

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