The Secret Shopper: Holiday Stockings Emptying Out

A few shopping days before Christmas, CATALOG AGE’s Secret Shopper called 20 catalogs to order 60 items. Thirty-five of the desired items, or 58%, were in stock. That wasn’t much of a change from holiday 2000, when 56% of The Secret Shopper’s requested products were in stock, though it was down somewhat from holiday 1999, when 66% were available. Boston Proper was the only catalog that had none of the requested products in stock.

As usual, the telephone experience varied widely among the catalogs. When The Secret Shopper called Coldwater Creek on Dec. 19, the friendly rep noted that the women’s apparel cataloger was automatically upgrading shipping to overnight at no additional charge. The order-takers at apparel and home goods catalog Lands’ End and at upscale gifts books Herrington and Vivre were also deserving of holiday bonuses.

Not so the customer service rep at storage products marketer Hold Everything. “We don’t have none of those” was her response to one Secret Shopper request. When asked, “Is it out of stock?” she replied, “We don’t show any available or none in stock.” And the rep at home products cataloger Solutions said “ow” twice during the order process, though each time she reassured The Secret Shopper that she was all right. The Secret Shopper hopes that Santa gave her a first-aid kit.

Late-Season Stock Status
Catalog Items requested/items in stock Wait time Date called
Boston Proper 3/0 1 ring 12/20
Chef’s Catalog 3/2 2 seconds 12/17
Coldwater Creek 3/3 None 12/19
Crossing Pointe 3/1 1 ring 12/20
Harry and David 3/3 1 ring 12/18
Herrington 3/1 1 ring 12/19
Hickory Farms 3/2 1 ring 12/17
Hold Everything 3/1 1 ring 12/19
J. Crew 3/3 None 12/20
Lands’ End 3/1 1 ring 12/19
Lillian Vernon 3/2 10 seconds 12/20
Living Arts 3/3 6 rings 12/19
L.L. Bean 3/2 1 ring 12/19
Magic Cabin Dolls 3/1 None 12/20
Martha by Mail 3/1 45 seconds (but 6 minutes on hold during call to check item status) 12/20
Solutions 3/2 1 ring 12/20
Spiegel 3/1 nearly 2 minutes 12/20
Terry’s Village 3/3 1 ring 12/19
Victoria’s Secret 3/2 30 seconds 12/20
Vivre 3/1 1 ring 12/19

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