August was the fifth month in a row to show a year-over-year decline in the number of catalogs received by Catalog Tracker. And it was the most dramatic drop in volume seen so far. Whereas Catalog Tracker (a service of Greenwich, CT-based list firm Direct Media) had received 500 catalogs in August 2002, this past August it tallied 299 — a 40% difference.
The number of apparel and accessories catalogs received, for instance, declined 43%, from 166 in August 2002 to 95 this past August. The general merchandise category showed even more of a drop: from 100 books in August 2002 to 51 in August 2003.
But Catalog Tracker did receive more catalogs selling health and self-improvement merchandise this past August — 12 compared with 11. To put it another way, whereas health-related titles accounted for just 2.2% of the catalogs received in August 2002, they made up 4.0% of those received this past August.
Not only were far fewer catalogs received this past August, but those that did mail were somewhat less promotional than those dropped last year. Only 6% of the August 2003 catalogs offered deferred billing, down from 9% of those mailed the previous August. The percentage offering free shipping and handling stayed flat at 7%.