When was the last time you sent a greeting card to show someone you care?
Card shop retailers in Southport are today joining colleagues across the UK in shouting about the #Cardmitment campaign – as it’s revealed that September is the month when more people are likely to see birthday cards dropping through their letterboxes.
The initiative is being led by the UK’s Greeting Card Association, which is proud to represent over 500 local high street card retailers, publishers and producers.
It aims to find new ways to encourage Brits to make a commitment to the wellbeing and mental health benefits of sending and exchanging cards, something that makes us stand out.
What’s a certain giveaway that you’re in a British home?
The smell of fish and chips on a Friday night? Tea bags in the tin? An electric kettle on the counter?
New data from the UK’s Greeting Card Association released today show it could be the mantlepiece that’s the clue.
Not only do Brits send more greeting cards than any other nation on earth, unlike other countries, we also love to put our birthday cards on the mantelpiece and leave them there for weeks.
And September is the month when this really matters – according to the Office of National Statistics, 27th September is the most popular day to be born over the last two decades with eight of the top 10 dates of birth in September, with the other two in early October.
Foden News, Balloons, Cards and Gifts in Churchtown in Southport has been selling greeting cards to customers under two generations of owners.
The shop, at 1 Preston New Road, stocks thousands of cards for all occasions, as well as lots of gifts, toys, banners, and balloons, plus newspapers, magazines and sweets.
Foden Manager Kelly Jackson believes there’s something special about sharing greeting cards with someone you love.
She said: “It’s a really nice thing to do to send a card to someone. It means so much to people.
“We have a massive selection of cards in Foden’s, so customers can come in and browse to find the card that’s right for them.
“We have everything from 99p cards and upwards, there’s lots of choice. We have something for everyone.
“When people come into the shop, you can see them looking carefully through all the cards, reading all the messages, and choosing the one that’s just right for the person they’re sending it to.
“It’s something that’s really personal with lots of thought behind it.
“It’s much better than just sending someone a text!
“The person sending the card has made that effort to come and choose a card for the right reasons and with the right message, it’s much more individual and personal.
“Lots of people come into our shop and don’t realise just what a huge selection we have on offer. It’s the biggest for miles around, and we’re an established local, independent business too.
“We sell cards for all occasions, gifts, balloons, and lots more besides. Customers love the free parking outside and the friendly team we have in here. We’re always happy to help people find just what they need.
“The business has been here for over 30 years, and is owned by Gail Barton. Gail’s Dad owned the business originally when it started out as a newsagent’s.
“We used to be based on the other side of Churchtown Lights, and really developed our greeting cards, balloons and gifts offer when we moved into this building 10 years ago.”
It’s not just birthday cards that people can buy. There’s a huge range including good luck cards, Christening, new baby, sympathy, congratulations, and many more.
Kelly said: “Christmas cards will be here very soon! We will have a huge selection for customers to choose from.
“We’ll even have Christmas cards to and from the dog and the cat!”
Overseas visitors are often bemused by the sight of cards used to decorate British homes.
In fact GCA research shows we tend to leave our birthday cards up for an average nine days, varying between eight days in Scotland and the north of England and ten days in Wales and Midlands.
But in Wales and the Midlands, one in ten of us will leave them up for a month and overall, 15 per cent of the population across the UK will leave them up for 15 days or more.
And no wonder people like to show off their cards – receiving a card makes people feel loved and appreciated.
“Not only do we Brits love to send cards, we love putting them on show to continue enjoying them and even keep the really special ones tucked away,” said GCA chief executive officer Amanda Fergusson.
“Cards nurture local independent businesses on the high streets we all love, support local charities and organisations in the communities we care for and helps protect the Royal Mail delivery service we all treasure.”
Iconic designer and TV personality Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen understands the importance of cards and is backing the GCA’s campaign.
“My wife Jackie and I have always been big greeting card senders, hoovering them up when we see something beautiful or a design we think would be perfect for someone we know,
“I feel that greeting cards are a very important part of making and retaining relationships. The sending of a greeting card is not AI, it’s something real, based on real emotions, creativity and craftsmanship, and I feel privileged to be part of this.”
Based on feedback from GCA members, here are the ways you’ll know you’re in a British home
- You’ll hear us say ‘sorry’…a lot. Sorry, but that’s true. A joke about us saying sorry was even one of the most popular at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
- There’ll be incessant chatter about the weather, even though it’s probably not going to change that much
- If there’s a family crisis, there’s only one thing to do – put the kettle on because tea fixes everything
- And talking of tea, other countries will have biscuits, but you won’t find them being dunked in a cuppa.
- Using cards as part of your seasonal decorations – at Christmas, on birthdays, on engagements, on retirement. We proudly put them on show and can’t bear to take them down.
- There’s a washing machine next to the sink rather than in a separate utility room
- We love to queue – and that starts at home when waiting for kids to get out of the bathroom
- Electrical sockets with their own switches – it’s a safety feature other countries don’t have!
GCA members this week are also asking their own customers what makes their homes uniquely British.