Holiday sales reports trickling in

Now that the ornaments are being packed away and the Christmas trees hauled off into the trash, consumer catalogers are tallying up their holiday receipts and wondering how their competitors did. Early reports show that though the season was hardly a banner one for marketers, a number of companies met and even exceeded expectations.

For instance, South St. Paul, MN-based The Sportsman’s Guide expects sales for the three months ended Dec. 31 to be $60 million-$62 million, up from $59 million a year ago and “above the high end of our plan,” according to a statement. Sportsman’s Guide sells outdoor gear and apparel.

Holiday sales for San Francisco-based gifts cataloger Red Envelope were nearly double last year’s, says CEO Martin McClanan, enabling the company to meet plan. A 40% boost in holiday circulation contributed to the rise in revenue, as did the extra shopping days that resulted from Christmas falling on a Tuesday.

Foot Traffic, a Kansas City, MO-based marketer of stockings and socks, had a “strong holiday season,” says president Charlie Barnard. Holiday sales for the company, which has sales of less than $5 million, were up about 7% from the previous year. “We planned for a modest increase and were able to beat that,” he says, “which is nice, especially in this economy.”

Sales at New York-based Catholic Direct were also “well above plan,” says vice president Dean Schulhof. “Our plan was aggressive, so we are really pleased with this year’s growth.” A division of Quadriga Art, Catholic Direct sells religious-themed gifts and household items.

Although holiday sales at Madison, VA-based Plow & Hearth were up 6%-9% from holiday 2000, holiday circulation had increased 12%. Overall, “sales were slightly below an aggressive plan,” says Peter Rice, president of the $100 million “country lifestyle” catalog. Rice blames some of the shortfall on the warm weather leading up to Christmas: “People don’t want to buy fireplaces in a warm winter,” he says.

Catalog sales at San Francisco-based men’s apparel marketer Rochester Big & Tall were down 30%-35%, says president Bob Sockolov. “We originally had an aggressive plan, and we had to revise. We had many instances where customers did not get catalogs or were getting them late,” he notes. “I had hoped that customers would be ordering more from the catalog, but it has been the opposite, with our retail division outpacing the catalog division.” Although retail sales were also down from the previous holiday season, the decline was not as dramatic as in the catalog division.

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