The last few months have seen catalogue volume seesaw. We noted the biggest percentage decline in 2011 to date in July, when volume fell 30 percent year-on-year. In contrast, the following month (August-on-August) experienced the biggest rise, up 43 percent on the previous year. Moving into September and another drop; we logged 165 catalogues in September 2011, compared with 185 last year, a decline of almost 11 percent. The decline is even more significant when you consider that two years ago we received 212 catalogues in September.
Nevertheless, 165 catalogues in one month is a record for 2011. Until now, the highest number was 140, received way back in March. September also broke the 2011 record for lowest number of covers touting special offers. Last month, more than half of all the catalogues we received featured no mention of a promotion on the cover, including Smyths Toys, Poetry, Presents for Men and Feather & Black.
Of the remaining catalogues that did include an offer, a sale or discount was once again the most popular, promoted on 65 covers (39.4 percent).
Free delivery was promoted on 18.8 percent of covers. Almost the same as percentage as August, but appreciably less than in 2010, when almost a quarter of all catalogues promoted some sort of p&p offer on the cover. Free delivery ranged from unconditional (Muddy Puddles) to a £150 threshold (Marie Chantal). Among the b-to-b mailers, Eureka required customers to spend £250 before qualifying for free p&p.
Continuing the record-breaking theme, last month we received just 11 catalogues (6.7 percent) promising us a free gift with purchase, this is the lowest figure since December 2009. Among the freebies on offer were chocolates when we spent £40 or more at Wiggly Wigglers, a wooden well with iron pump and as many as 75 free flowers from Spalding and a free reading light from Serious Readers if we spent more than £200 on one order.
Also noteworthy is the trend of receiving several catalogues from the same retailer in one month; stand up Crew Clothing, Boden, and Joe Browns. Last month, Joe Browns sent us two 100-page catalogues, one promoted free delivery, the other had no offer on the cover. Crew Clothing mailed us a 220-page catalogue featuring 10 percent off as well as a 76-page mailing, also offering 10 percent off. Crew also sent a 76-page catalogue with an offer for 20 percent off everything. We were inundated with catalogues from Boden last month—we tracked a 68-page insert in Red magazine, offering 15 percent off, free delivery and returns and a free silk scarf. We also received two 244-page Autumn catalogues, one with an offer and one without; two mini Boden catalogues, an 188-page version featuring 15 percent off, free delivery and free returns and a 216-page version with no offer, and a 60-page Johnnie B catalogue targeting those shopping for teenagers.
Back to the stats, here’s one final fact for this issue of the Catalogue Log: we’ve received more catalogues in 2011 to date than we received at this point last year. For the first nine months of the year we logged 964 catalogues, compared with 952 catalogues received between January and September 2010.
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