August mailings take a tumble

Perhaps a sign that mailers were less than optimistic about fall, catalog mailings dropped 33%. Just 236 catalogs were received by Catalog Tracker in August. While that is 30 more books than July, it’s down considerably from the 349 catalogs the Greenwich, CT-based list firm received in August 2006.

The apparel and accessories category saw the biggest slide in August: Catalog Tracker received 95 clothing books this year compared to 124 in the prior August. In general merchandise, the number of books received fell from 47 in August 2006 to 23 this August. And Catalog Tracker received 45 home decor and housewares catalogs this year, compared to 69 last August. Year to date, Catalog Tracker has received 11.9% fewer books compared with the first eight months of 2006.

While the number of books received is down, e-mail is on the rise. Catalog Tracker received 441 e-mail promotions from multichannel merchants in August, up 37% from the same month last year. For the year, the service has logged 58.1% more e-mail promotions.

Use of free shipping promotions increased slightly: 13% of the catalogs received this past August offered the incentive, vs. 10% in August 2006. But use of deferred billing offers decreased from 8% last August to 7% this August.

Apparel and accessories merchant Bedford Fair offered free shipping to customers filling out an inhouse credit card application, while children’s book Constructive Playthings gave $10 off any Internet purchase. Home decor and housewares title Seventh Avenue and apparel and accessories merchant Mason Shoe both offered to pre-approve customers for in-store credit.