Secret Shopper: Taking Stock of Holiday Delivery

As the holiday shopping season was winding down, Catalog Age’s Secret Shopper called 15 mailers to check stock on 42 products. We found that 26 items (62%) were in stock, which wasn’t too bad considering that the calls were made from Dec. 20 through Dec. 22. (Then again, we’re not positive about the inventory accuracy, since the rep at Lifestyle Fascination did not confirm what the products were when given the item numbers.) As for Christmas delivery, 80% of the catalogers contacted could still come through, though several marketers tacked on hefty expedited delivery fees. The best delivery deal was Coldwater Creek, which upgraded shipping as a holiday present to its customers, charging a flat $6.95 for Christmas delivery as long as they ordered by midnight EST Dec. 22. Too bad the cataloger didn’t have any of the items Secret Shopper requested.

Catalog Items requested/items in stock Date called Christmas delivery still possible?
Allen Brothers 2/2 12/20 Yes ($15 delivery surcharge)*
Coldwater Creek 2/0** 12/20 Yes
Crate & Barrel 3/3*** 12/20 Yes
Crossing Pointe 2/1 12/20 Yes ($15.95 for Christmas delivery)
Eddie Bauer 3/2 12/22 Yes ($12 delivery surcharge)
FAO Schwarz 3/0 12/21 No (not guaranteeing it)
Garnet Hill 3/3 12/21 Yes ($15 delivery charge)
Hickory Farms 3/0 12/21 Yes ($2/lb. surcharge)
Lifestyle Fascination 3/2 12/22 “Probably not”
The Lighter Side 3/3 12/20 Yes ($20.95 overnight charge)
Marshall Field’s 3/0 12/22 N/A
Orvis 3/3 12/20 Yes
Potpourri 3/2 12/20 Yes ($12 overnight charge)
The Wine Enthusiast 3/3 12/20 Yes
Wolferman’s 3/2 12/20 Yes ($17 delivery surcharge)
* surcharge was waived on orders of more than $100
** rep tried to find a similar product to the one requested and provided the item number for Secret Shopper to check the stock online
*** rep warned that the company had only a few left of an item requested

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