For Mailers, the Dog Days of July

During the second quarter of 2004, Catalog Tracker, a service of Greenwich, CT-based list services firm Direct Media, received nearly 18% more consumer catalogs than it had during the comparable quarter of last year. But the third quarter got off to a less voluminous start in terms of catalog mailings. Catalog Tracker logged in 297 books for July 2004, down nearly 3% from the 305 catalogs received in July 2003.

While volume declined year over year, the percentage of books offering shipping and handling promotions didn’t. Eleven percent of the catalogs received this past July touted free S&H, up from 9% of those received in July 2003 and 9% of those received in June 2004. The percentage of catalogs offering deferred billing was 5%, the same as for July 2003 but down from 7% in June 2004.

As for other promotions, shoes catalogers Auditions and B.A. Mason — both of which are owned by multititle mailer Mason Cos. — promised special pricing for first-time customers. Jewelry catalog Diamond Essence also offered first-time customers a financial incentive: a 30% discount. West Elm, one of Williams-Sonoma’s home decor titles, was somewhat less generous, offering first-timers only 10% off.