Mailers started 2005 on an optimistic note. Apparently they were confident that consumers hadn’t spent all their disposable income during the holiday season: Catalog Tracker received 19% more consumer catalogs in January 2005 than it had in January 2004.
A service of Greenwich, CT-based list services firm Direct Media, Catalog Tracker logged in 400 consumer catalogs throughout this past January. The previous January it had received only 335 books, a 7% decline from January 2003’s 362 catalogs.
While the volume was appreciably higher this January, so was the percentage of mailers offering free shipping and deferred billing. Whereas 9% of the books received in January 2004 had touted free S&H, this year 11% did. This diverse group included apparel catalogers Alloy, Draper’s & Damon’s, Irvine Park, J. Crew, and Victoria’s Secret; audio/video mailers BBC America Shop, Beautiful Music Co., and PBS Home Video; gifts and collectibles book Cashs of Ireland; and food cataloger Edwards Virginia Traditions. And 7% offered deferred billing, more than double the 3% that promoted it in January 2004.
There was a dearth of other, more imaginative promotions. Gifts merchant 1-800-Flowers.com gave a 15% discount on purchases of at least $55. Abbey Press, which specializes in religious and spiritual gifts and home accessories, had a one-day-only discount offer. Basil Street Gallery, which sells reproduction artworks, offered discounts on orders placed before Valentine’s Day; another home decor mailer, Design Toscano, also gave a discount to customers who ordered by a certain date. And 16 catalogs — among them off-price beauty products mailer Beautytrends and high-end beauty products merchant Bliss — offered a gift with purchase.