No April catalog showers

Jul 01, 2008 9:30 PM  By

The clutter in consumer mailboxes is clearing out. According to the Catalog Tracker service of Greenwich, CT-based list firm Direct Media, the number of catalogs tracked in April was down 10% from last year, with 334 catalogs received this year vs. 370 in April 2007.

At least the falloff in volume is not as bad as it was in March: Catalog Tracker logged 301 catalogs then, which was down 20% from the 376 books the service received in March 2007.

But it seems the number of new books appearing in Direct Media’s mailbox is also shrinking. While 12 new titles came in the mail in April 2007, just four new ones arrived this past April: D’Errico Jewelry, Jayson Home & Garden, Space NK Apothecary, and Doctor’s Trust — which in October merged its operations with Puritan’s Pride.

Free shipping promotions increased from 13% last April to 14% in April 2008, as catalogers continue to feel the pressure from their brick-and-mortar rivals. And shipping discounts began for merchants selling big-ticket items, as Land’s End Home offered all furniture delivered for a flat $16.95 fee.

Catalogers did try to get consumers to shop with several promotional offers, too. Apparel and accessories title A.B. Lambdin ran a sweepstakes with a $5,000 shopping spree as the prize, while home decor and housewares seller GrandinRoad offered a chance to win a $25,000 open-air transformation.

There was also a big shift with in-home dates this April. Last year about 25% of the catalogs tracked were received between April 15 and April 30; this year that percentage jumped to 60%. This may indicate a possible attempt to cash in on income tax refunds, or perhaps get consumers excited about spending their economic stimulus checks.