Last-minute mailers

This past holiday season, consumers weren’t the only ones waiting for the last minute. Catalogers waited until the last minute as well, to send their final holiday mailings.

Catalog Tracker, a service of Greenwich, CT-based list services firm Direct Media, received 353 consumer catalogs in December 2004. That’s up more than 12% from the 315 received in December 2003. The uptick followed virtually flat year-over-year volume in November and a nearly 8% decline in year-over-year October volume.

For all of 2004, Catalog Tracker logged in 4,722 consumer books — a 7.7% increase from the 4,383 received in 2003. The predictions made early last year that catalogers would resume and expand their prospecting efforts as well as continue to mail deeper into their house files apparently proved correct. Yet year-over-year volume for the fourth quarter was actually down ever so slightly, to 1,398 books in 2004 from 1,402 catalogs in 2003.

On the promotional front, 9% of the catalogs received in December 2004 offered free shipping — the same percentage as in December 2003. Likewise, the percentage offering deferred billing held steady at 6%.

More-inventive promotions were few and far between. Videos cataloger Acorn offered a free DVD with purchase, while tools and gadgets cataloger/retailer Brookstone tossed in a free year’s subscription to This Old House magazine with every order of at least $100. On another note, the award for most creative cover line goes to Norm Thompson’s Early Winters/Sahalie apparel book: “We found an animal in bed pg. 54.”

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