Not a September to remember

Perhaps some catalogers extended their summer vacation. Catalog Tracker’s volume for September continued to fall, though not as much as in the previous two months.

In September, the service of Greenwich, CT-based list company Direct Media received 381 catalogs in its mailbox, down 9% from 415 books the previous year. That follows August’s drop of 33% compared with 2006, and a July that was down 28% from the previous year.

The total number of catalogs received for the third quarter was 823, down 22% from the 1,050 books Catalog Tracker took in during the combined months of July, August, and September last year.

Fewer catalogs received offered free shipping deals: 10% this September vs. 12% in September 2006. But the percentage offering deferred billing remained unchanged from last September, at 6%.

Apparel and accessories book Brownstone Studio offered deferred billing with an inhouse credit application. So did automotive supplies catalog J.C. Whitney.

Merchants are also giving incentives for first-time buyers. Men’s apparel and accessories catalog Charles Tyrwhitt offered new customers 50% off their first order, while self-improvement products title CompassioNet gave first-timers a free item with the purchase of two.

Catalogers also used their front covers to promote their loyalty programs. Classic car parts book Eastwood Co. offered a free buyer’s club membership, while gifts mailer Signals highlighted its Signals Circle program, which offers members free shipping and additional discounts.

And Lands’ End used at least two of its titles — its core apparel catalog and Lands’ End Kids title — to steer shoppers to the Lands’ End shops within Sears stores with cover promotions.

Perhaps as an early trigger to the holiday season, collectibles book Lenox, bedding and decor title Company Store, and gifts/general merchandiser Lillian Vernon used their covers to remind recipients that product personalization is always free.

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