Catalog Tracker has finally logged in the last of the consumer catalogs received for 2006 — no small task, given that the service of Greenwich, CT-based marketing services provider Direct Media had received 4,585 books for the year. Yet that total is down 2.7% from the 4,712 b-to-c catalogs received in 2005 — which was itself down slightly from 4,737 catalogs in 2004.
Indeed, there were only three months in 2006 in which year-over-year catalog volume rose: February, November, and December. The end-of-year boost — Catalog Tracker received 880 books in November and December 2006, a 2.4% increase from the 859 received in November and December 2005 — indicates that marketers continue to push back their holiday mailings to capture sales from procrastinators, whose last-minute tendencies have been encouraged by the immediacy of the Web and the promise of overnight delivery.
The percentage of December catalogs that offered deferred billing declined from 7% in 2005 to 5%. Likewise, the percentage of free shipping offers fell as well, from 15% in December 2005 to 13% in December 2006. That 13% was also a decrease from 15% in November 2006. Catalogers may figure that anyone who’s still ordering Christmas gifts in December isn’t going to waste precious time shopping around for promotions such as free shipping; they’re probably more concerned about getting it shipped in time for Christmas delivery.
Speaking of which, nearly 22% of the December 2006 catalogs promoted their deadlines for guaranteed Christmas delivery on their cover, up slightly from nearly 21% the previous December but up markedly from 11% the previous month. A variety of merchants — women’s apparel cataloger/retailers Appleseed’s and Victoria’s Secret, collectibles title Danbury Mint, auto accessories mailer Mid America Motorworks, and outdoor sporting gear cataloger/retailer Cabela’s, to name just a few — promised Christmas delivery for in-stock items ordered as late as Dec. 22. But they were trumped by apparel cataloger/retailer Eddie Bauer and apparel and home goods merchant Lands’ End, both of which guaranteed delivery for items ordered up until Dec. 23, the Saturday before the holiday.
|No. of catalogs received in 2006||No. of catalogs received in 2005||% change 2006 vs. 2005|
|Source: Direct Media’s Catalog Tracker|