Supermarkets have become ‘ashamed’ of selling Christmas cards with religious themes, some Christian leaders have claimed in response to a survey published in today’s Daily Mail which showed that only 0.5% of 6,576 cards sold individually and 5.0% of 1,337 multipacks carried religious images. For the story, see:
The newspaper visited stores owned by the four biggest supermarket chains (Asda, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, and Tesco) in seven areas: Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Colchester and Witham, London, Manchester, and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Its findings were disaggregated by supermarket within area.
The chances of a shopper being able to buy an individual Christmas card with a religious theme were highest in Morrisons (1.7%) and lowest in Asda (0.2%). Tesco scored 0.4% and Sainsbury’s 0.8%. Tesco in Newcastle and Sainsbury’s in Colchester had most single cards with a Christian design (seven each).
Asda (3.0%) was also bottom of the list for multipacks including at least one religious card. Then came Morrisons (4.5%), Tesco (6.2%), and Sainsbury’s (6.7%). Colchester had the most choice, the Tesco store there having six multipacks containing a religious card and Sainsbury’s seven.
The Daily Mail ran a similar survey this time last year, with even lower figures. The proportion of religious Christmas cards was then 0.2% for individual designs and 3.5% for multipacks. Details at:
Obviously, Christmas cards can be bought at many other outlets besides these four supermarket chains. However, impressionistic and anecdotal evidence would suggest that cards with overtly religious themes will not necessarily be in more frequent supply elsewhere either. Such cards have become a niche market and increasingly need to be actively sought out through specialist Christian retail shops and online/mail-order suppliers.
The debate, of course, is whether retailers are simply responding (as they claim) to lack of customer interest in religious cards, by not stocking many of them. Or are they, in effect, driving the trend towards more secular cards by disproportionately giving them shelfspace? The context is also relevant: the number of people sending Christmas cards of any kind has been diminishing in recent years, and the credit crunch from 2008 seems to have exacerbated the trend.