Catalog Tracker: Emptier Mailboxes

May marked the second month in a row that Direct Media’s Catalog Tracker service received fewer catalogs than it had last year. This past May, the Greenwich, CT-based list firm received 316 consumer catalogs, down 9.7% from the 350 catalogs received in May 2002. In April, Catalog Tracker had logged in 367 catalogs, 7.6% fewer than the 397 received in April 2002.

A drop in the number of home decor and housewares books accounted for most of the decline in year-over-year volume. In May 2002, Catalog Tracker had received 94 home decor and housewares catalogs; this May, it received only 67, a nearly 29% decline. Whereas home catalogs had accounted for 26.9% of the books received in May 2002, this May they made up 21.2%.

Fourteen catalogs, or 4.4%, carried blow-in advertisements. One of those catalogs, collectibles book You & Yours, carried two blow-ins.

As has been the trend, more catalogs offered free shipping and handling than last year. Eleven percent of the May 2003 catalogs featured S&H promotions, compared with 6% the previous May. At the same time, the percentage of titles offering deferred billing fell from 13% to 8%.

Other promotions included the promise of a free T-shirt from children’s products mailer American Girl, a free cap from beer company Coors & Co., and the chance to win a Ford pickup from Conney Safety Supplies. In keeping with Father’s Day, the cover of home products catalog Solutions carried a simple “Give Dad a gift he’ll like.” But the Linen Source cover promotion, “Kinetic Bedding at sale event prices,” called to mind images of wiggling sheets and blankets.

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