Saturday, 7 January 2012

December Catalogue Log

For the past couple of years, catalogue volume declined dramatically in December compared with the preceding month. In December 2009, for instance, we logged just 62 catalogues compared with November 09’s crop of 140 catalogues. December 2010 didn’t fare much better—just 66 catalogues compared with 167 logged in November. Then again, the snow hampered deliveries in late 2010, which may have deterred some mailers from sending catalogues in the last five weeks of the year.

Having said that, in 2011 it seems catalogue marketers have finally caught up to the reality that consumers are shopping for Christmas much, much later than they used to. We received 110 catalogues in December 2011, a 67 percent increase on the previous year and the fifth-highest volume of 2011.

December offers chart
December  2011 was also among the most promotional months of the year. Approximately two-thirds of all catalogues featured some sort of special offer on the cover. That’s up from November, when about half the catalogues we tracked featured promotional cover lines.

Of the catalogues arriving during the week in between Christmas and New Year, we noted several mailers such as The Handpicked Collection, Wall London and Bloom, take the opportunity to announce the start of their sales. This tactic saw the percentage of catalogues touting a special price promotion on the cover reach 53.7 percent. Now compare that with November, when just a third of catalogues featured a sale on the cover. Christmas is coming later, but the January sales are starting earlier.

On the other hand, the percentage of catalogues promoting free shipping on the cover was down from November. We counted just 12 catalogues offering free p&p in December, or 11 percent, including Cotton Traders, the Happy Puzzle Company and Traidcraft. Clearly, taking a hit on margins from knock-down prices was enough for most retailers.

The number of catalogues promoting a free gift in December 2011 was statistically insignificant from December 10 or December 09. We noted 6.4 percent of catalogues promoting a free gift in December, including Viking and bookseller Postscript, which promised a free Classical Myths book when customers spent £15 or more.

The Catalogue Log: 2011 in catalogues

We promised you a roundup of the year by the numbers, so here are the Catalogue Log’s top stats for 2011:

* In total, Direct Commerce logged in 1,419 catalogues in 2011. That’s 87 more than we received in 2010, representing a 6.5 percent growth.

* November proved to be the month with the greatest volume; we tallied 178 catalogues.

* In July we received just 64 catalogues. Almost 70 percent of them featured some sort of special offer on the cover making July the most promotional month of the year.

* September and October tied for the months with fewest promotional cover lines, but at 49.7 percent, 2011 was most definitely a very promotionally focused year.

* Breaking down the data into specific offers, June was the most popular month for sales and discounts with 59.3 percent of catalogues touting a special price on the cover. For the second consecutive year, the least popular month for sales was November.

* Free delivery was most popular in February (49 percent) but least popular in December (10.9 percent).

* February was a popular month for offers; in addition to the highest number of free p&p offers, 18.3 percent of covers promised a free gift with purchase. Free gifts were least popular in October.--MT

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