More volume, more offers

As the holiday shopping season geared up, Catalog Tracker saw a modest increase in year-over-year mailbox volume. In September the service of Greenwich, CT-based list services firm Direct Media received 453 consumer catalogs, a 2% increase from the 444 received the previous September.

The number of mailers offering promotions rose as well. One in nine catalogs had some sort of free shipping and handling promotion, up from 9% the previous September. And 8% offered deferred billing, compared with 6% in September 2004.

And bearing in mind that for many consumers, ’tis just as good to receive as to give, 6% of the catalogs promised a gift with purchase. These ranged from apparel and footwear merchants Aerosoles and Victoria’s Secret (both of which, incidentally, were giving away tote bags) to car care specialist Griot’s Garage and pet supplies mailer SmartPak Equine. One of the catalogs, Southwest Indian Foundation, promised a gift but only to those who ordered by Nov. 1, no doubt in hopes of garnering early holiday orders.

Only a few other catalogs made blatant bids to lock in early orders. Stationery mailer Personal Touch offered early-bird discounts on its Christmas cards; home decor merchant Design Toscano promised 10% off orders placed by Oct. 31. Several others made a concerted effort to convert prospects. Wine merchant Windsor Vineyards, for instance, offered new customers a 20% discount, while plus-size women’s apparel catalog Jessica London promised newbies 40% off, and upscale shirtmaker Charles Tyrwhitt upped the ante to 50% off.

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