Cooling off in February

What goes up must come down. While year-over-year consumer catalog volume rose more than 19% in January, according to Catalog Tracker, February’s year-over-year volume fell by nearly 7%.

A service of Greenwich, CT-based list services firm Direct Media, Catalog Tracker logged in 322 consumer catalogs this past February. The previous February it had received 346 books, while in February 2003 it had tallied 347 consumer catalogs.

But a smaller percentage of the February 2005 catalogs offered free shipping: 9%, compared with 11% the previous month and 11% the previous February. On the other hand, 9% promoted deferred billing, up from 7% in January and 7% in February of last year.

Among other promotions noted in February, home furnishings cataloger Home Decorators Collection ran a promotion for an Oreck air purifier. As Catalog Tracker noted, “It certainly makes good marketing sense partnering an air purifier for your home with a major home decor book.” Intimate Promises, a new catalog of plus-size lingerie from Redcats USA, touted “Special introductory prices” on its cover, while a dot whack on the front cover of horticulture book Michigan Bulb Co. read “Over 100 prices reduced from last year.”

Competitors Frederick’s of Hollywood and Victoria’s Secret had more in common than their product line: The women’s apparel merchants both ran tiered money-off promotions, as did jewelry and tabletop cataloger/ retailer Ross-Simons. And in keeping with the “great minds think alike” theme, 15 merchants — including women’s shoe manufacturer/marketer Aerosoles, gifts catalog Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Cigars International — offered a gift with purchase.