Tuesday, 12 October 2010

September Catalogue Log

Nearly one-fifth of the 1,081 catalogues tallied in the first nine months of 2009 were received in September. For the same period of 2010, we received just 953 catalogues, but September’s share remained roughly the same—we logged 185 catalogues last month, representing 19.4 percent of the total catalogues received to date.

There are further similarities between the data gathered in September 2009 and last month. Not least that in both years we noted a significant increase in volume compared with the previous month—no surprise there as many cataloguers are ramping up distribution in the run-up to Christmas. Each September saw catalogue volume almost triple compared with August. Based on the last two years, I’d hazard a guess that this pattern is likely to be repeated next year.

While the number of catalogues we received had rocketed, the percentage promoting sales and discounts dropped appreciably, from 41.0 percent in August to 34.1 percent in September—almost an identical percentage to last year, when the number of catalogues promoting a sale or discount was 34.4 percent. Among the 63 catalogues promoting a sale or discount on the front cover or carrier sheet, were nightwear catalogue Charlotte & Co, which offered 20 percent off the customer’s first order, and apparel catalogue Fife Country, which gave customers a time-limited offer: those who order by 16th October receive 15 percent off any order of more than £50.

The percentage of catalogues offering free delivery remained almost unchanged from last year, rising marginally to 24.3 percent; however it represents the highest rate so far this year. Almost a quarter of all catalogues tallied in September offered conditional or unconditional free p&p, including business-to-business catalogue BT Business Direct, which promoted free delivery on online orders of more than £149 plus free delivery on all inks and toners until 8th October, and maternity wear cataloguer Isabella Oliver, which offered free standard delivery for all orders of £99 or more, and free express delivery for orders of £139 or more.

The number of catalogues not using their front covers to tout special offers was also up on August. In September we recorded 80 catalogues without an offer, representing 43.2 percent, or almost a 10 percent rise on the previous month.

Looking back to October 2009, 41.3 percent of catalogues highlighted a sale or discount on the cover, and 21.7 percent offered free shipping. Going forward, I’m going to make another prediction based on that data: as we get closer to Christmas, free delivery will become an even more popular offer as cataloguers strive to make service, rather than price, the key differentiator during the festive season.--MT

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