Thursday, 6 June 2013

May Catalogue Log

May 2013 represents the fifth consecutive month to show a decline in the number of catalogues promoting a sale or discount. Of the 86 catalogues we logged last month, only 23 (26.7 percent) featured a price promotion on the front page, compared with 33.6 percent in April 2013 and a whopping 50 percent in May 2012.

Discounts take a dive in May
At the same time, the popularity of free delivery continues. Eighteen out of the 86 catalogues (20.9 percent) offered free shipping—closing the gap between the two most popular offers we track. While that percentage is slightly down on April (23.5 percent), it’s more or less in line with May last year (21.2 percent).  Among the catalogues offering free delivery were Atterley Road, Great Plains, Joe Browns and Patra—and all did so without teaming up free p&p with a discount.

Discussing the issue with colleagues, we believe the continued decline of discounting in favour of offers like free shipping is down to cataloguers seeking to avoid devaluing their brand. With discounts so prevalent last year, perhaps some cataloguers are coming to realise that it’s not a race to the bottom. Offering money off trains consumers to expect to pay a certain price—and no more. Free shipping on the other hand, while still a burden on profits, does not cast the same shadow about how much goods are worth.

Only 7 percent of the catalogues we logged in May offered a free gift with purchase, compared with 8.8 percent last May and 10.9 percent in April 13. Usually the preserve of b-to-b cataloguers and gardening brands, last month we also tallied offers from apparel retailers; among them Witt, Seasalt and Madeleine Fashion.

Another decline we’ve tracked is the overall volume of catalogues we’ve received. At 86, May’s haul is the smallest of 2013 to date and down by a quarter on this time last year. Again, I feel this might be due to cataloguers keeping a close eye on mailing costs and removing unprofitable prospects from their lists. Saying that, we logged 119 catalogues in April 2013—28 percent more than the comparable month last year—so maybe the decline is more a seasonal choice than anything else. --MT

If you’d like to have your catalogue featured in the Catalogue Log, please send it to
Catalogue Log
c/o Direct Commerce
First Floor Offices
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EX34 9EZ

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