Wish You Were Back – The Decline Of The Postcard

If you think back to your childhood holidays, you may remember the ever-present postcard. These pieces of card, most often printed with a glossy, beautiful photo of the place you visited, were used to inform family, friends and colleagues back home of what a great time was being had!

But if you compare this to today, you may realise that there’s likely a chance that you haven’t written and sent a postcard in years. This is perhaps unsurprising given the astronomical rise of social media in our day to day lives.

Why Post When You Can Post On Instagram?

The influence of social media can be found in many aspects of our lives, from the need to always be informing people about what we’re doing to the need to simply see what others are doing. It’s only expected then that the humble holiday has also been given a makeover in recent years.

While postcards can still make nice souvenirs for tourists, the likelihood is that they are just going to be taken home to be placed in a scrapbook or shown somewhere. The original intent of postcards, to post back home to show people where you are, has been rendered almost pointless when the age of instantaneous posting is here.

Smartphones often have cameras in them that are more than capable of coping with taking holiday snaps in high quality, and so people are taking photographs on their phone and uploading directly to Facebook or Instagram. Tourist spots are cashing in on this as well, with ‘Instagram-friendly’ spots being created such as the famous ‘I Amsterdam’ logo.

A Decline In The Postcard

The need to take photos that friends and family will enjoy, and the millions of accounts on Instagram has resulted in a decline in how many postcards are being bought. According to the Telegraph, 26 years ago we were buying 20 million postcards in the UK compared to only 5 million in 2017.

This resulted in Britain’s oldest postcard publishers, J. Salmon, closing in December of 2017 after 140 years due to the decline in sales and the increase in competition from overseas. A study of 2,000 people by Gatwick Airport also found that Brits were sending 60% less postcards from their holidays over the last 20 years.

Though the survey did also note that younger people were more likely to send a postcard than other age demographics, with the 18 to 34-year-old’s being 55% more likely to send one than their elders. This perhaps correlates with the rise of other more ‘retro’ things such as the resurgent popularity of Polaroid cameras and a love of scrapbooking memories.

Why Not Embrace Postcards?

It may be obvious from our article, but postcards are the perfect way to send personalised notes to your family or friends back home. While they can appreciate the beauty of your own photographs, there is something nostalgic about receiving a postcard in the mail.

So why not make sure to take a trusty pen with you when you next go abroad during the summer holidays (or even winter holidays!) and write out a heartfelt postcard to someone. They make treasured memories and show that you’re thinking of someone even when on holiday!




Sarah Jubb