Scouts groups around the country have been forced to scrap long-running Christmas postal services as Britons fall out of love with sending greeting cards.
For more than 40 years, a Scouts postal service has provided people with a cheaper – and often quicker – alternative to the Royal Mail for the delivery of Christmas cards in thousands of villages up and down the UK.
But the tradition is now under threat, with several local Scouts groups forced to cancel the service for good this year. Local volunteers, as well as the wider Scout Association, told The Telegraph that a decline in the number of Christmas cards being sent was to blame.
An estimated £1.7 billion is spent annually on greeting cards in the UK. This figure has remained static for the past five years, and with the prices of cards rising owing to inflation, it indicates a steady reduction in the numbers being sold.
Cardiff and Vale Scouts is one of the groups that has bid farewell to its service after more than 35 years serving locals in and around the Welsh capital.
Gareth Johns, one of the group’s organisers, said the decision was made “because of the dwindling use of the scheme”.
“It was such a shame to see it come to an end after so long,” Mr Johns said. “It took up many hours in planning, sorting and delivering to make the scheme successful.”
He added: “We invited other organisations to get involved but sadly there was not enough interest to make it viable to continue running it across such a large area.”
‘Steady decline in cards’
Dorchester’s Scouts post suffered a similar fate, with the region’s scouting group announcing in October that the scheme, which it said had “provided messages of festive joy in all weathers”, would be coming to an end after more than three decades.
“In recent years the scheme has seen a steady decline in the number of cards posted and therefore a huge reduction in the monies raised, in a time when everyone is under financial pressures of ever-increasing costs,” Debs Thomas, acting district commissioner of Dorchester Scouts, said in a letter to members.
She thanked the hundreds of volunteers who had “walked; collected; stamped; sorted; and delivered thousands of good wishes” over the years.
Scouts in Abingdon in Oxfordshire and Wirral Scouts in Merseyside are also among the groups that have had to cancel long-standing postal services.
Meanwhile, amid growing fears the tradition of sending Christmas cards is in demise, the Greeting Card Association has launched a campaign to encourage people around the country to send more cards.
The industry body met with MPs in Westminster this week and asked them to commit to sending Christmas cards this year, and to also encourage their constituents to do so.
A spokesperson for the Scout Association said: “Across the UK hundreds of Scouts groups raise much-needed funds by delivering Christmas cards to their local community.
“While a handful of sections out of 26,000 have ceased this type of activity because of the reduced volume of Christmas cards being sent, many Scouts districts like those in Swindon, Ipswich, Hereford and Grantham still carry out this Christmas fundraiser.”