Catalog Tracker: Settling Down

After receiving a mailbox-bulging 679 consumer catalogs in November, list firm Direct Media’s Catalog Tracker service tallied a more modest 318 books in December. Then again, the number of catalogs received in December was up nearly 24% from the 257 books received in December 2001.

But while more catalogs were received in December 2002 than December 2001, the decline in volume between November and December was more dramatic this past year. Last year, 53% fewer catalogs were received in December than in November. In 2001, 43% fewer arrived in December in November. The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks no doubt had much to do with the later mailing of a significant number of catalogs, as marketers pushed back their catalog drops in the weeks and months following the tragedy.

Twenty-five of the catalogs received by Greenwich, CT-based Direct Media in December, or 7.9%, offered free shipping and handling, down from 8.8% of those received in November. Nearly as many catalogs — 23, or 7.2% — promoted deferred billing or a similar credit offer. That compares with 5.7% of the November catalogs.

For all of 2002, Catalog Tracker logged in 4,944 consumer catalogs. Credit offers appeared in 399 of those books, or 8.1%. Free S&H was promoted in 334, or 6.8%, of the catalogs.

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