Friday, 5 March 2010

February Catalogue Log

The shortest month of the year held no surprises in terms of catalogue volume. We received and logged 89 catalogues, a decrease of 32 percent on January’s 131 catalogues. After the January high, it wasn’t the only decline we recorded; in February we noted that 34 catalogues, or 38.2 percent, offered a sale or discount compared with 57 catalogues that did so last month.

The percentage of catalogues offering a free gift was also down—from 17.6 percent in January to 16.9 percent in February, whilst free delivery was only marginally less popular—21.3 percent of covers promoted it, down from 21.4 percent.

What did surprise us about February’s stack of catalogues, however, was that none promoted Valentine’s Day on the cover. Considering that Brits spend at least £40 on Valentine’s cards and gifts (according to a recent survey we’ve come across) it seems a missed opportunity. And for those of you who think email is a more suitable medium for targeted Valentine’s messages, we were underwhelmed with those offers too.

Another big event in the gifts calendar overlooked by February’s catalogues is Mothering Sunday, which falls on 14th March this year. We received very few catalogues promoting Mother’s Day, despite our inbox buckling under the virtual weight of “treat your mum this Mother’s Day” emails. Of the catalogues that did mention Mother’s Day on the cover, Hotel Chocolat got the thumbs up for dedicating the edition to “our multi-tasking heroines”.

Past Times was another to celebrate Mother’s Day, but it wasn’t immediately obvious from the cover. It gave Mother’s Day the opening spread and promoted half-price trinkets and tapestries. We don’t know why Mother’s Day promotions are more popular via email than in print, perhaps you could tell us?

Finally in the spring shopping calendar comes Easter—and here cataloguers didn’t skimp, despite mailing at least six weeks ahead of the holiday weekend. Both Lakeland and JML featured promotions relating to tasty Easter treats; even b-to-b cataloguer Viking Direct got in on the action with its Easter-themed “Cracking products, service and value!” cover line.

Overall, the percentage of catalogues offering any sort of promotion was down from last month. Whereas less than a third of the catalogues we received in January made no mention of special offers on their covers, the figure rose to 37 percent, or 33 of all catalogues logged in February. With more new-season catalogues expected in March, we’re predicting fewer sales and discounts, but this might be offset with more free-delivery offers to encourage customers to pay full-price.--MT

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