April mailings inch up

April isn’t just about rain showers, it also brings spring catalogs. Catalog Tracker started off the second quarter with 370 catalogs received for April, up 5% from 352 in April 2006. The first rise of the year came after a slow first quarter, in which the service of Greenwich, CT-based list firm Direct Media received 1,032 catalogs, down 11% from the 1,162 books received the first three months of 2006.

The rise in the total number of catalogs is likely due to the 19% increase in the apparel/accessories books received in April — 149 vs. 125 in the same month last year. It was the only one of 12 categories that posted a rise in books received. The biggest drop came in home furnishings and decor: Catalog Tracker received 73 home decor catalogs for the month, compared to 82 in April 2006. This could be the result of softness in the home market.

Thirteen-percent of the catalogs received used free shipping — the same percentage that offered it the previous April. Other shipping deals included a $3.99 standard shipping fee from Creative Irish Gifts, a $5 flat rate from Golfsmith, and a 99-cent shipping offer from apparel cataloger Blair Corp.

Only a handful of the catalogs received promoted Mother’s Day order-by dates or contests. To reach Mom in time for the May 13 holiday, pens marketer Cross recommended a May 2 order date, while collectibles merchant Danbury Mint suggested placing orders by May 10. Godiva Chocolatier offered a chance to win $1 million in prizes.

Other promotions included a free gift offer from women’s shoes marketer Aerosoles, a free product with purchase deal from food merchant Allen Brothers, and a $35 gift card offer from sporting goods mailer Bart’s Watersports.

It’s possible that many catalogers mailed more books in April to beat the May 14 postal increase. Of the catalogs received for the month, 81% had an in-home delivery date between April 1 and April 15, up from 54% last year.

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