Live from The Annual Catalog Conference: Abacus Report: 2000 Consumer Catalog Sales Down 4%-5%

Boston–In case you needed confirmation of what you’ve no doubt suspected: Declining consumer confidence and Wall Street tumult led consumer catalog sales to fall 4%-5% between 1999 and 2000, according to Abacus Direct’s (booth #103) Spring 2001 Catalog Industry Trend Report. The report, which will be released by the marketing services and co-operative database provider tomorrow, tracks consumer catalog purchase data of the 1,200 Abacus Alliance catalog members for the year 2000.

Broken down by seasons, the report shows that 2000 was on pace with 1999 for the first half of the year but dropped off in the second half by 10%. Dollar sales in December ’00 alone were down a whopping 19.3% from December ’99.

Although average order sizes nudged up from $121 for October-December ’99 to $122 for the same period in ’00, the total number of households that made catalog purchases between October and December last year dropped 11.3% from the same period in ’99.

Among product categories, women’s and men’s apparel, gifts, and home goods had the strongest dollar sales. Fashion accessories; fruits and nuts; and beer, coffee, and tea had the lowest dollar sales. Travel packages, apparel, and supplies pulled the highest average order size ($758), followed by audio/visual/electronics ($341), and high- and middle-ticket jewelry ($315). Discount domestic merchandise ($42), arts and crafts ($43), and senior-living products ($43) pulled the lowest average order sizes.

The median age of buyers from Abacus Alliance members is 46-55 years old; their average household income is $50,000-$75,000, and they have a home valued at $100,000-$149,000 on average. Sixty-seven percent of the buyers are women. And nearly 20% of households have made at least seven catalog purchases through Alliance members.

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