Catalog Tracker: Promos Abound in the Third Quarter

If you thought you were seeing more catalog offers of credit and free shipping this past summer, you were right. During the third quarter of 2002, the percentage of consumer catalogs wooing shoppers with such promotions nearly doubled from the same period of 2001, according to Direct Media’s Catalog Tracker. A service of the Greenwich, CT-based list firm, Catalog Tracker is a tally of the weekly promotional activity of roughly 1,400 consumer catalogs.

Of the 1,388 catalogs tracked during July, August, and September 2002, 8.7% promoted credit offers. That’s a significant increase from 4.9% of the 1,110 catalogs tracked during the same period of 2001. Then again, it’s down from 11.5% of the 823 catalogs tracked during the third quarter of 2000.

As for free shipping, 7.3% of the catalogs offered it during the third quarter of 2002, up from 4.1% in 2001 and from 6.0% in 2000.

By far the largest category of catalogs received during the third quarter were apparel and accessories books. They accounted for 32.8% of the catalogs. General merchandise catalogs were the second-largest category, accounting for 25% of the total catalogs. The next-largest category was home decor/housewares catalogs, which made up 19.7% of the total.

As you might expect, mailing activity was relatively slow in July. Catalogs received in July accounted for only 23.8% of the overall number of books tracked for the quarter. Another 36% of the books were received in August, and the plurality — 40.2% — arrived in September.

And the Catalog Tracker mailbox grew even heavier in October. In all, 677 catalogs were received in October, a 21.3% increase over September’s 558 catalogs. In 2001, 6.2% fewer catalogs had been received in October than in September — no doubt a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which led a number of catalogers to postpone or even cancel their October mailings.

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