Digging a little deeper into our data, however, shows several differences. Although March 2011 was only marginally more promotional than last year—58.6 percent of catalogues featured some sort of offer on the cover, compared with 57.4 percent last year—we tracked a 29 percent increase in the number of catalogues promoting a sale or discount. Of the 140 catalogues we received in March, 41.4 percent, 58 catalogues, had a price-related offer on the cover. Among those offering knock-down prices were children’s furniture cataloguer Great Little Trading Co, apparel retailers Joules and Toast, and the new JD Williams brand Williams & Brown.
In March last year we noted a record number of catalogues offering free shipping—22 percent. That record has since been broken twice, and was almost matched this March, with one in five catalogues a conditional or unconditional p&p offer. Commonly this year, free shipping was combined with free returns as a further incentive to purchase. This was adopted by womenswear catalogues Penny Plain, Hush, and Brora, among others.
Free gifts was less popular than it was last March, and indeed the least popular it’s been in 2011 so far. The offer appeared on 15 catalogue covers this month, mostly used by business-to-business merchants and gardening catalogues.--MT