Catalog mailings do December dip

After two months of rising catalog volume, Catalog Tracker logged in fewer catalogs in December 2007 than it did for the same month in 2006. The service of Greenwich, CT-based list firm Direct Media received 295 catalogs, down 5% from the 311 that came in for December 2006.

For the final quarter of 2007, Catalog Tracker received 1,405 catalogs, which was flat compared to 2006, when 1,402 made their way to its mailbox.

Free shipping offers for the month were more prevalent as merchants tried to make up for slow sales. While 13% offered the perk in 2006, 19% ran a free shipping promotion this December.

Sports title Golfsmith offered a $5 flat shipping fee. General merchant Shindigz by Stumps pitched a $5.95 shipping offer. Children’s retailer Hearthsong set its shipping charges at a flat rate of $4.99.

Meanwhile, food title Wine Country Gift Baskets encouraged shoppers to use the Web to place an order by offering a 5% discount to online customers.

Order-by dates were prevalent to ensure holiday delivery. Food catalog Hickory Farms recommended orders placed by Dec. 18 for guaranteed Christmas delivery, while gifts and hardware Brookstone plugged Dec. 23 for guaranteed holiday delivery with its Last Minute Gifts 2007 guide.

But the books received in December weren’t just about holiday sales. Walter Drake used its cover to start pitching Valentine’s Day. In the book, received the last week of December, the gifts and home goods merchant promoted a sweepstakes offer for a $5,000 diamond and $25,000 cash. And American Girl used its mailing to plug its Girl of the Year contest.

Late December catalogs helped some mailers get a jump on liquidation. Home decor title Touch of Class got its spring book — which included 740 items at reduced prices — in Catalog Tracker’s mailbox just before New Year’s. And apparel merchant One Hanes Place around the same time mailed a 52-page Winter Clearance edition.

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