Compared with March, it seems cataloguers toned down their reliance on discounting in April. However, a look back at the data shows April was actually more promotional than the previous month and appreciably up on the same period last year.
Out of the 93 catalogues that crossed the editorial desk last month, 38, or 40.9 percent, featured a sale or discount on the cover. In March, 45 percent of catalogues did so. The percentage of catalogues promoting free delivery on the cover also dipped, from 26.1 percent in March to 23.7 percent in April. However in total, April just had the edge when it came to overall promotions displayed on the cover. We noted that 63.4 percent of catalogues featured a sale, discount, free shipping or free gift on the front cover in April, compared with 62.4 percent the preceding month.
Year-on-year we tracked a 12 percent increase in the volume of catalogues received. We tallied 93 catalogues in April 2012, compared with 83 percent in April 2011. And while we didn’t receive a spring edition of William Powell this year, or a sale catalogue from Neat Ideas (Staples Direct), we did get a catalogue from JoJo Maman Bebe, Wall London and Suttons Seeds, which were missing from last year’s roster.
One of the catalogues that stood out last month was Joe Browns, which had undergone a revamp. The new-look catalogue, which I’m told was only mailed to a certain segment of the database, is a 100-page perfect-bound edition. In a really bold move, the refreshed catalogue doesn’t feature a product on the front cover. It’s also slightly larger than previous editions, giving the products inside more room to “breathe”. I rather like it.
As far as promotional cover lines are concerned, April 2012 was significantly more discount-led. As mentioned earlier, 40.9 percent of covers featured a sales or discount in April 12, compared with 34.9 percent in April 11 and 29.2 percent in April 10. Cotswold Collections, Dwell and Graham & Green were among the 2012 catalogues offering a discount.
While in April 2010 and 2011 fewer than one in five catalogues offered free delivery, the promotion was much more popular in April 2012 and featured on 23.7 percent of covers. Catalogues offering free shipping included Tulchan, Soar Mill Seeds and Fashion Union, which combined the offer with a hefty 20 percent discount.
Bucking the trend completely, free gifts were more popular in April than in March, but less so than the same period last year. We counted 13 catalogues—14 percent—offering a freebie in April 2012, ranging from a free silk tie from Charles Tyrwhitt, a free MP3 speaker set from Viking and free chocolates in every order from Bibliophile.--MT