It’s not the last post for Raya cards just yet
LAST year, Pos Malaysia delivered 3.9 million Hari Raya cards. This year it expects to send two per cent more. As usual, it will hire temporary staff to cope with the extra load during this busy time of year. As Pos Malaysia Bhd group chief executive Datuk Khalid Abdol Rahman said, contrary to the perception that people no longer sent cards via "snail mail", this shows that sending cards during Hari Raya is a tradition that many still enjoy. As our page 8 headline on Tuesday said, more than anything else, it's the personal touch that keeps this practice alive, despite the faster and newer digital alternatives on the Internet and cellular technologies. For many people, both young and old, it's that special time of the year to send a card as a greeting on email, mobile phone, Facebook or tweet does not carry the same meaning and sentiment as an old-fashioned, tangible, paper card.
While all these go to show that the tradition of sending greeting cards during Hari Raya is not under the immediate threat of terminal decline, other developments, however, do not spell good news for the long-standing practice. Indeed, the fact that a lot more cards -- 11.5 million, to be precise -- were delivered during Hari Raya two years ago suggests that the tradition is more in danger from receiving a get-well rather than a congratulatory card. Far from being a holiday that sparks sales, the run-up to this year's Hari Raya Aidilfitri appears to have witnessed a decline. Previously, bookshops and stalls used to be packed with people buying greeting cards and sales peaked before the festival day, but not any more. On Monday, shop assistants in Kuala Terenagganu told Bernama that there has been a drastic drop in business. In fact, demand for cards during festive seasons has been on a long, gradual decline over the last five years all over the world. As the practice of sending cards seems to be fading, this suggests that the two per cent increase expected by Pos Malaysia does not appear to be on the cards.
To be sure, paper greetings are still popular, and there will be exceptions to the rule that young people don't send cards. Certainly, "real" cards have not become collateral damage in the virtual age just yet. But the reality is that emails, texts and social media messages have significantly reduced the volume of personal letters and business correspondence in the mail. As such, the likelihood is that fewer people will bother to shop for a card, buy a stamp and post it.