VICTORVILLE — A Christmas tradition that keeps the United States Postal Service busy and several companies afloat appears to be fading in the High Desert and across the country, experts say.
Despite the Christmas season being the most profitable time of year for many card companies, cards sales have fallen from $2 billion to about $1.6 billion over the last year, according to the Greeting Card Association.
IBISWorld analyst Sarah Turk told NPR the greeting card industry is declining and from 2015 to 2020 they expect it to continue a downward trend, plunging almost 5 percent each year.
Many High Desert residents said they’ve seen a dramatic decline in the number of Christmas cards mailed and received, with many opting to use Facebook and other online platforms to wish family and friends “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays.”
Community leader Ron Wilson was one of many High Desert residents who said with each passing holiday season they’re finding fewer Christmas cards arriving in their mailboxes.
“I sent 78 in the snail mail and I received less than 35 — I have seen the incoming amount fall for several consecutive years,” said Wilson, the former chairman/president/CEO of Desert Community Bank who lives in Victorville. “I enjoy doing them as I write a message in each one.”
Wilson, who used to write out cards to 240 DCB employees “back in the day,” said he still finds the process of sending out cards “to be a blessing, a joy, and no chore at all.”
Connie Ernst, of Apple Valley, was one of many area residents who said they stopped sending Christmas cards because of the rising price of postage.
“I don't receive any Christmas cards in the mail and it's probably because I quit sending them,” Ernst said. “I do receive one Christmas card from a relative that I don't see very often and it has money in it, so I like that one a lot, of course.”
Ernst, who receives another card from a friend who helps take care of her house, said the greeting cards that she does send throughout the year are to her grandchildren for each holiday, which “reminds them that grandma loves them.”
Dottie Walls, who mails about 140 Christmas cards to family and friends, said she only receives about 45 cards, with the number of cards falling each year.
Although many have turned to digital e-cards, Short Message Services (SMS), videos and audio greetings sent via the Internet, Walls said she prefers communicating her Christmas greetings with a physical card even though she loves Facebook.
“Sending an actual physical card that you can hold in your hand seems, to me, to hold more meaning,” said Walls, who lives in Lucerne Valley. “There's more of a sentiment there and getting an actual card really does mean a great deal to people.”
Like Ernst, Walls said throughout the year she likes to randomly send out love notes in the mail to friends and family as a “little reminder, letting them know how special and loved they are.”
“I don't send cards anymore,” said Michael Stevens of Victorville. “Email may be impersonal to some, but it's instantaneous and I think just as personal as receiving a card.”
Cheryl Causey, a Southern California native who lives in Texas and has friends in the High Desert, said she used to send Christmas cards that included a family newsletter and personal handwritten note to everyone in her address book, which totaled between 30 and 50.
“The rising cost of postage and the popularity of email and Facebook have drastically changed my Christmas card sending,” Causey said. “Most of my family and friends have stopped sending cards too. As of Dec. 21st, we only have seven cards, which is probably half of what we got last year.”
Bill Tuck Jr., who sent out about 10 cards, said he knows one family who mails out over 100 Christmas cards along with a special message.
“They add a long boring note about themselves,” Tuck said. “You get the feeling it's all about them — like they’re famous personalities.”
Rene Ray De La Cruz may be reached at 760-951-6227, RDeLa Cruz@VVDailyPress.com or on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz.