Catalogers happy with back-to-school business

A number of retailers have warned of sluggish back-to-school business, but most of the catalogers contacted by CATALOG AGE say they are pleased with their back-to-school sales.

For instance, at multititle mailer Alloy, the average order size has increased 5%, “close to the mid-$90s,” says chief operating officer Jim Johnson. Response is up about 8%, and overall performance is on or slightly ahead of plan. The New York-based marketer mails girl teen apparel books Girlfriends L.A. and Alloy, boy teen apparel catalog CCS, and extreme-sports-oriented catalog Dan’s Competition.

Another marketer of teen apparel, Peace Frogs, is “seeing a real resurgence in sales in comparison to last year,” says founder/president Catesby Jones. “I keep reading that the recession has hurt spending by kids, but we haven’t seen it.” The company has enjoyed a 26% rise in sales over last year and is planning to increase holiday circualtion 20%.

At Columbus, OH-based Limited Too, a cataloger/retailer of apparel for girls ages 7-14 (aka tweens), sales have met expectations, says spokesperson Robert Atkinson. The company increased circulation of its two back-to-school mailings 33%, to 8 million from 6 million last year.

Back-to-school sales at Lands’ End Kids, a division of Dodgeville, WI-based apparel and home goods mailer Lands’ End, is “slightly above plan,” says merchandise manager Patti Simigran. “Our customers are responding well to footwear, especially the All Weather Moc. Girls athletic wear, convertible pants [which can also be worn as shorts] for boys, polos, and backpacks are also doing well.”

Backpacks have also been selling well at Lillian Vernon Corp., says spokesperson David Hochberg. The Rye, NY-based cataloger of gifts and home products mailed its Lilly’s Kids Halloween Preview edition, which features a number of school supplies, in July, “a few weeks earlier than usual, to capture back-to-school sales,” Hochberg says.