Thursday, 3 September 2009

The August Catalogue Log

The dog days of summer made their presence felt in the Catalogue Log inbox. In August we logged in just 71 catalogues, less than half the number (149) tallied in July. How much of the decline in volume was due to general seasonality and how much to the Royal Mail strikes scattered across the month is impossible to say.

While the overall volume of catalogues was low, the percentage offering sales and discounts was the highest it’s been so far in 2009: 43.7 percent. That’s not surprising, given that many retailers, particularly apparel merchants, make every effort to shift excess inventory by the end of summer to make room for autumn and Christmas merchandise. Cataloguers as diverse as, footwear merchant Hotter Comfort Concept, retail fittings supplier Morplan, womenswear title Simply Be, and Wickedelic Lingerie posted special sale catalogues in August.

In fact, the percentage of catalogues that promised no special offers fell sharply. In June, 46.5 percent of the books logged in carried no free P&P offers, gift-with-purchase deals, prize draws, discounts, or other special offers. In July the percentage slipped slightly, to 43.6 percent. But in August fewer than one in three of the catalogues received—31 percent, to be precise—were free of sales or other promotions. For the most part, those were autumn/winter/Christmas editions, such as the Arthritis Research Campaign’s Christmas issue, the autumn editions of childrenwear merchant Frugi, gardening title Sarah Raven’s Kitchen & Garden, and womenswear brand Spirit of the Andes , upscale knitwear mailer House of Bruar’s 2009-2010 catalogue, and the autumn/winter editions from fair-trade fashion brand People Tree and apparel brand Weird Fish.

Peeks, which sells party and fundraising supplies, did include a special offer in its Christmas catalogue: a discount on early-bird orders. It didn’t call out the promotion on its cover, though, opting to feature it on the opening spread instead—a bit of a missed opportunity.--SC

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