Volume slip-sliding away

Catalog Tracker received 265 consumer catalogs in June — nearly 6% fewer than the 281 catalogs received in June 2005. It was the fourth month in a row that the service of Greenwich, CT-based list services firm Direct Media posted a year-over-year decline in the number of catalogs received.

In fact, among the first six months of the year, only February tallied higher year-over-year volume. What’s more, volume for the first half of 2006 was, at 2,132 catalogs received, down nearly 3% from the 2,189 books received during the first half of 2005.

Volume wasn’t the only thing down this June compared with June 2005. Only 5% of the catalogs received in June 2006 offered deferred billing, compared with 9% in June 2005 (and 6% in May 2006). The percentage of free shipping and handling offers held steady at 12% year over year, though that was down slightly from 13% in May 2006.

Eight of the catalogs received in June, or 3%, offered some sort of gift with purchase. In addition to stalwarts such as health, wellness, and housewares mailers Dr. Leonard’s and Healthy Living, these included meat merchant Allen Brothers, wigs cataloger Paula Young, and athletic footwear merchant Road Runner Sports.

Other promotions included a sweepstakes to win a gift certificate from home furnishings cataloger Wisteria and an online “Doll-a-Day Giveaway” from Barbie Collector. Two disparate catalogers — books mailer Bas Bleu and home decor merchant Design Toscano — offered discounts to those who ordered by a certain date. And Fairytale Brownies offered the opportunity to “save up to 25% with Early Discount Program,” though just two months later its Website had nary a mention of the promotion.

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