Market Snapshot: It’s Not Raining Menswear Buyers

When “Market Snapshot” focused on the men’s apparel catalog market in 2005 and 2006, “steady” appeared in the headline each time. If we weren’t so reluctant to repeat ourselves, it would have appeared in this month’s headline as well.

During the fourth quarter of 2006, according to list brokerage services firm ParadyszMatera, the names of 1.31 million 12-month menswear catalog buyers were available for rental or exchange. That’s down 1.5% from the 1.33 million names that were available during the previous fourth quarter. The removal of two major files from the market — Casual Male and Bachrach — during the third quarter of 2006 accounted for the decline.

With more than 427,000 12-month buyers, big-and-tall cataloger KingSize accounts for nearly one-third of all the available names in the sector. KingSize grew its active-buyer file by 7% during the past year — a respectable figure, but one that’s dwarfed by the year-over-year growth of the second-largest file on the market: Paul Fredrick MenStyle, whose house file swelled 61%, to more than 141,000 names. The biggest gainer in terms of percentage, however, was Waterfronts by Sportif, whose file increased 81%, to roughly 34,000 active buyers.

Among the menswear books received by New York-based ParadyszMatera last year, 23% offered some sort of incentive, up from 19% in 2005 but down from 26% in 2004. For the first time in several years free shipping was not the most popular promotion. Only 9% of last year’s catalogs offered it, compared with 14% in 2005 and 18% in 2004.

But 11% touted discounts last year, up from 9% in 2005 and 8% in 2004. Upscale cataloger/retailer Charles Tyrwhitt offered a variety of discounts — 25% off any order, 50% off first orders and online orders. Another high-end merchant, Hickey Freeman, promised $200 off orders of at least $1,000 — an indication that, when it comes to seeking bargains, the rich aren’t so different from you and me.

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