Edinburgh Council chiefs are the latest to abandon paper Christmas cards and opt instead for electronic greetings just weeks after it emerged MSPs are set to call the last post at Holyrood next year.
The city claims demand for printed Christmas cards had been falling every year for the past five years – and now the council’s corporate Christmas card is being scrapped in favour of e-mail-based e-cards.
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The Lord Provost will still post his traditional card to members of the royal family, other civic heads, overseas dignitaries and recipients of honours presented during the year, though he too will use e-cards for internal greetings.
But not everyone approves of the move. Tory councillor Dominic Heslop said: “I send out a lot of Christmas cards to constituents who appreciate and enjoy that it has come from their councillor and is embossed with the council logo.
“Many of my constituents are elderly people whom I have helped from time to time with various problems and concerns. I am aware that many of them do not have e-mail addresses and therefore the idea of an e-card is not practical.”
Last year 1075 corporate cards, costing £363, were sent by councillors, directors and senior managers; 1400 pupil-designed cards, costing £571, were sent; as were 700 of the Lord Provost’s Christmas cards at a cost of £270.
The council’s move comes after the Evening News revealed last month that the Scottish Parliament is to urge MSPs to switch to sending e-cards from next year.
Several other large employers in the Capital said they had already switched traditional cards for digital greetings.
NHS Lothian said it had been sending e-cards rather than traditional ones for at least the past five years while the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said it sent e-cards last year, the first Christmas since all Scotland’s fire brigades were merged into one, but Lothian and Borders Fire Service had already been using e-cards for “quite a few years” before that.
A spokeswoman said: “The method of delivery may be different, but our sentiments remain the same – we still wish everyone goodwill, a happy festive season – and a safe one”.
Standard Life said it did not produce a company card and most employees sent seasonal greetings electronically.
A report by the Greeting Card Association shows the industry remains lucrative and is worth around £130 million in the UK. Charities estimate £50m is raised for good causes through the sales of charity Christmas cards each year.
St Columba’s Hospice said its annual selection of Christmas cards still provided a valuable source of funding even if sales had decreased.
A Royal Mail spokeswoman said: “Royal Mail research conducted last year found that an overwhelming 72 per cent of people would prefer to receive a traditional card to any electronic festive greeting through social media channels.”