Secret Shopper: How the Holiday Stocking Stacks Up

Just before and after Thanksgiving, Catalog Age’s Secret Shopper called 15 mailers to check stock on numerous items. We found that 29 of the 40 items, or 73%, were in stock — not great considering that the holiday shopping season was just getting cranked up. As for service, most of the catalogers answered the phone right away, or in less than a minute if an automated call system picked up. The longest wait was seven minutes for Casual Living. Maple Grove Farms might have had an even longer wait, but Secret Shopper became frustrated and hung up after five minutes.

Catalog Items requested/items in stock Wait time Date called
Art Institute of Chicago 3/3* none 12/1
Ballard Designs 3/2 1 ring 12/1
Bloomingdale’s by Mail 3/1 none 12/1
Casual Living 3/1 7 minutes 11/27
Dr. Leonard’s 3/3 3 rings, 1 min. 30 seconds for rep 12/2
Garden Botanika 3/3 1 ring, 5 seconds for rep 11/27
Harry and David 2/2 1 ring 12/2
Lands’ End 3/2** None 12/2
L.L. Bean 3/2 None 12/2
Maple Grove Farms n/a 6 rings, on hold 5 minutes before hanging up 12/2
Oriental Trading Co. 3/3 2 rings 11/27
Pfaltzgraff 2/1*** none 12/2
Sincerely Yours 3/1 3 rings 11/27
Sundance Gift and Jewelry 3/2 None 11/27
The Swiss Colony 3/3 45 seconds 11/27
* rep specified how many units were left
** desired color/size not in stock; rep tried offered larger size
*** rep tried to cross-sell comparable item

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