A Farewell to Circ Cuts

After months of year-over-year declines in the number of catalogs received, mailers may well have cut all the circulation they can. At least that’s what the figures from Direct Media’s Catalog Tracker suggest. During February 2004, the Greenwich, CT-based service received 346 consumer catalogs — just one shy of the 347 books received in February 2003.

Certain product categories saw significant increases in volume. The number of home decor and housewares catalogs received, for instance, rose nearly 16%, to 74 from 64 in February 2003. Nineteen percent more general merchandise books were received (63 compared with 53), and 65% more catalogs selling children’s products (28 vs. 17). On the other hand, the number of apparel catalogs received fell nearly 11%, to 110 from 123 the previous February.

On the whole, the catalogs were more promotional this February than they had been a year earlier. Eleven percent offered free shipping, up from 8% in February 2003, and 7% provided deferred billing, up from 6%.

Among other promotions, women’s shoe cataloger B.A. Mason touted “special insider pricing for first-time customers,” while tabletop items and home accessories mailer Barrons offered shoppers 10% off their next online purchase. Stationery and gifts title Colorful Images promoted its Preferred Customer Club, offering customers a 10% discount for joining. Gifts mailer Flax Art & Design offered a contest for a $1,000 gift certificate, and personal care marketer Garden Botanika gave away a spa facial kit with orders of more than $50.

But arguably the catchiest cover line was from apparel cataloger Early Winters: “Introducing Buzz-Off — the world’s first bug repellent clothing.” Perhaps product really is king after all.

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