I can spend all day speculating why the volume has declined December-on-December. Maybe we’ve dropped off some prospect lists. It could also be that last December was a test, with cataloguers experimenting with the option of mailing Christmas offers later and January sales earlier. Perhaps we didn’t buy as many newspapers last month, and therefore didn’t see as many inserts as last year—or it’s possible that there were fewer inserts altogether. Maybe more cataloguers migrated to email promotions this year—at a quick count I received more than 35 emails from multichannel retailers on Christmas Day, including one titled “Sale - Only 364 Days Until Next Christmas”.
Whatever the reason, while catalogue volume went down, the use of promotions rocketed. Almost two-thirds of the catalogues we received in December 2012 (64.5 percent) featured some sort of special offer on the cover. Incidentally, December was second only to June in the number of promotional cover lines.
December does however take the crown for being the most discount-driven month of the year. Some 59.2 percent of all the catalogues we received promoted a sale on the cover, including a significant number of furniture retailers such as DFS, Debenhams, Tesco, Barker & Stonehouse and Aspace. Other retailers choosing to publish their special price offers on the cover included Hawkin’s Bazaar, JoJo Maman Bebe and Maplin.
In December, the least popular among the offers we track were free gifts. We counted just three catalogues, or 3.9 percent, promoting a freebie. Christmas not so much a time for giving, it seems…
Here you go fact fans, a roundup of the headline stats of the Catalogue Log:
* In total, Direct Commerce logged in 1390 catalogues in 2012. That’s a 29 fewer than we received in 2011, representing a 2 percent drop. On the bright side, 2012 was up 4 percent on 2010.
* September was the month with the greatest volume, when a total of 204 catalogues were tallied. We received only 61 catalogues in January.
September was also the least promotional month of the year and the one with the highest number of business-to-business catalogues received.
* The most promotional month was June, when more than two-third of the catalogues we received (67.9 percent) mentioned at least one special offer on the cover.
* The most discount-driven month in 2012 was December when 59.2 percent of the catalogue covers we logged touted a price-based promotion. The least popular month for sales was September (23.3 percent)
* Free delivery was most popular in October (26.3 percent) but least popular in January (14.8 percent).
* Free gifts were appreciably less popular in 2012 compared with 2011. The month with the most freebies was April. The fewest number of catalogues promoting a free gift with purchase was recorded in July—just 2.9 percent. --MT