Catalog Tracker: Mailings Scarce in February, E-mails Up

Catalogers cut back heavily on mailings in February but they’re e-mailing their customers more, most likely a result of the recession, according to the Catalog Tracker service of list firm Direct Media.

According to Direct Media’s numbers, Catalog Tracker received 144 books in the mail this past February, down from 325 in February 2008. That’s a 226% decline in catalogs mailed.

There’s no question that there are fewer catalogs in the mail. The U.S. Postal Service reported an overall decrease in mail volume of 5.2 billion pieces for the first quarter of 2009, compared with a drop of 1.7 billion for the same quarter last year.

Free shipping promotions increased from 14% in February 2008 to 19% this year, and deferred billing promotions decreased from 8% in February 2008 to 6%.

Direct Media added that there was an increase in e-mail promotions in February, too, according to its E-mail Tracker service: Merchants sent 2,254 promotional pieces in February, up 207% from the 1,089 blasted in February 2008.

The sectors with the most e-mail blasts were apparel with 471, up 51% from 311 in February 2008; entertainment with 243, up 38% from 177 in February 2008; and home decor with 188, up 35% from 139.