Footwear mailers step up on the list growth

Catalogs that specialize in footwear (as opposed to apparel merchants that include shoes as part of their merchandise mix) account for about 6% of all consumer apparel catalog buyers available for list rental or exchange, according to New York-based list brokerage services firm ParadyszMatera. With 3.44 million 12-month buyers for the second quarter of 2006, the niche isn’t huge, but it has been growing steadily. During the past year it increased 6.5%, from 3.23 million names for the second quarter of 2005; during the past two years it grew 8.5%.

Growth among a few of the larger lists, including Mason Cos. titles Massey’s and B.A. Mason, accounted for much of the increase in active buyers during the past year. And three Mason catalogs — Maryland Square as well as B.A. Mason and Massey’s — accounted for three of the five largest files in the market. Number one was FootSmart, with more than 736,000 12-month catalog and Web buyers. FootSmart, which sells footcare and backcare products as well as shoes, saw year-over-year growth of more than 27%. Another double-digit gainer was Complements by Anthony Richards, part of the AmeriMark Direct stable; its active buyers file grew more than 25%, to 187,000 names.

So far this year, footwear merchants have been more likely to use promotions than they were during the past two years. Twenty-two percent of the footwear catalogs received by ParadyszMatera during the first half of 2006 offered some sort of incentive, such as free shipping or discounts. For all of 2005 (and 2004, for that matter), only 16% had promised some sort of incentive. Free shipping has been the most popular offer to date, with 17% of the catalogs touting it. Women’s shoes manufacturer/marketer Aerosoles, for instance, offered it with orders of at least $75; socks and stockings mailer Foot Traffic tossed in free shipping for orders of more than $75. And Complements and Soleas, which introduced a print catalog in May 2005, promised free shipping with any order.

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