November catalog mailings up 2%

The momentum of more catalog mailings in October continued in November. Catalog Tracker logged in 580 catalogs in November, up 2% over the 569 the service of Greenwich, CT-based list firm Direct Media received in the same month in 2006.

A more promising sign — 21 of the catalogs received were new to the Catalog Tracker database, meaning newer merchants like food catalog Michael Jordan Steaks are in the mail, and smaller properties such as food merchant Manhattan Fruitier are looking to grow.

You might expect to see mailers using more promotions in November to stimulate holiday sales, and they did. But not a lot more. Use of deferred billing, for instance, rose to 6% in November 2007 from 5% in November 2006.

Free shipping offers increased from 15% in November 2006 to 18% in November 2007. Some catalogs offered discounted shipping — gourmet title Mackenzie Ltd., for instance, offered a flat-rate $9.95 shipping fee. Children’s products catalogers Hearthsong and Magic Cabin Dolls touted a $4.99 standard shipping fee.

Catalogers also offered sweepstakes to grab the attention of customers. Apparel and accessories title Casual Living ran a $5,000 makeover sweepstakes, while high-ticket home decor catalog Frontgate gave its customers a chance to win a new 2008 Lexus LX570.

Order-by dates were prevalent. Children’s product cataloger Toys To Grow On pitched a Dec. 17 order-by date for guaranteed delivery by Dec. 24. Others, like apparel and accessories title Tog Shop, housewares book Chefs Catalog, and general merchandiser Brookstone, let shoppers wait until Dec. 22 to order and still get their gifts under the tree in time.

More than half — 56% — of the books received arrived before November. Thanksgiving was early this year, making for a longer holiday shopping season. But catalogers appeared to plan accordingly for an early Hanukkah, which started on Dec. 4.

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