Women’s apparel universe now on the wane

Welcome to a new monthly feature

Market Snapshot, based on data from New York-based media brokerage services firm ParadyszMatera. Each month we’ll take an in-depth look at rental file universes, promotion activity, launches, and other information about a specific catalog sector.

This month’s focus is on the women’s apparel segment, using information from 91 active buyer files available for rental or exchange as well as from 129 women’s clothing titles tracked in the mail. Incentive statistics are drawn from more than 3,200 efforts tracked by ParadyszMatera’s MarketRelevance promotion tracking database.

Catalogs that sell women’s clothing exclusively account for more than 20% of all 12-month consumer catalog buyers available for list rental or exchange. Nonetheless, as of the third quarter of 2004, the 12-month active universe for the women’s apparel catalog market was down 7% from the third quarter of 2003, to 34.5 million names. That’s a more significant decline than that of the men’s, children’s, and mixed-gender apparel categories.

The women’s apparel books have also offered more incentives than the consumer apparel market as a whole. During the first three quarters of 2004, 43% of women’s clothing catalogs offered free shipping, deferred payments, discounts, or other incentives, compared with 34% for all consumer apparel catalogers combined.

Among the files in the category that have seen significant growth is Coldwater Creek. Its Sale book and Spirit files were up a combined 68%, or an additional 358,000 names. Some of that, however, resulted from the Sandpoint, ID-based cataloger/retailer’s releasing its Internet-only buyer names in 2004.

Several smaller files have grown impressively as well. Two titles targeting African-American women, Ashro Lifestyle and Homeland Authentics, enjoyed double-digit year-over-year growth. Ashro, the more fashion-forward of the two, surpassed the 100,000 active buyer mark, thanks to 57% growth. Homeland, which sells more-traditional styles, has grown its active buyer file 44% since the third quarter of 2003, to 45,000.

Total house file universe: women’s apparel

2002 2002 2003 2003 2003 2003 2004 2004 2004
Total universe 37.4 36.7 36.5 37.5 37.2 36.9 36.0 35.8 34.5

Women’s apparel mailers with the largest active buyer files

Rank List name 3Q 2004
house file universe
1 Victoria’s Secret Catalog Buyers 4,458,700 $110
2 Chadwick’s 2,380,015 $90
3 J.C. Penney Women’s Apparel and Accessories Buyers 2,374,250 $98
4 Newport News 1,843,818 $85
5 Lane Bryant Catalog Buyers 1,744,534 $76

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