PORTLAND, Maine (AP) – Catalog shopper Kerry Falagario would be hard-pressed to tell that there’s been a decrease in catalog circulation. They’re coming fast and furious this time of the year: catalogs from specialty tool companies for her husband, who likes to tinker; American Eagle, Justice, Delia’s and Body Central for her daughters, ages 8 and 14; and Pottery Barn or others with a focus on home decorations for herself.
“Just the other day, I had five. There wasn’t even enough room for my mail,” said Falagario, describing the stuffed roadside mailbox outside her suburban Gorham home.
Despite the flood around the holidays, annual catalog circulation by retailers has actually dipped substantially because of a postage increase, a weak economy and more shoppers making purchases online. Nearly a third fewer catalogs are mailed than were four years ago.
L.L. Bean, the Freeport-based outdoors retailer, is among those that have scaled back page counts and become choosier about who gets its catalogs. Bean’s catalog circulation has been relatively flat for the past few years, but the number of catalog pages declined 20 percent from last year, the company said.
Steve Fuller, L.L. Bean’s marketing chief, sees the trend accelerating but he doesn’t see catalogs going away anytime soon. That’s because catalogs and online sales are intertwined, with catalogs serving as a tool to get customers’ attention and to motivate them to make purchases, often online.
“People are using catalogs differently now than ever before. For some customers, they’re still a primary shopping vehicle but that number is decreasing at a very fast rate. For a lot of people, they complement a trip to the retail store or a trip to the website,” he said.
The precipitous drop in mailings followed a 23 percent average postage increase in 2007 for the category that includes standard-sized catalogs.
From fiscal 2008 to fiscal 2012, catalog volume is estimated to have dropped by about 5.6 billion catalogs to about 12 billion, a decline of 32 percent, though the trend appears to be flattening, said Jonathan Leon, manager of catalogs for the U.S. Postal Service.
Some catalog companies have gone out of business. Others drastically cut back on the number of catalogs, or reduced the number of pages, or both, said Lois Brayfield, president of J. Schmid & Associates, a Kansas-based catalog marketing specialist.
And the postal service’s continuing struggles will likely mean more postage increases. A week ago, the postal service reported an annual loss of a record $15.9 billion.
The lines have been blurring for years in the multi-channel retailing world.
Most big retailers are active in the three main channels: catalog, online and retail stores. They’re scrambling to stay current in the online world as the number of digital devices continues to grow.
Ninety percent of consumers received catalogs and those recipients received three of them a week, on average, a survey by commissioned by the American Catalog Mailers Association last year found.
In Gorham, Falagario gets scores of them, including Cabela’s and L.L. Bean. As in the heyday of the J.C. Penney and Sears catalogs, her daughters peruse the catalogs and circle the items that they like in hopes that mom and dad will buy them.
But Falagario doesn’t dial the toll-free order numbers, nor does she send in the order forms. She makes all of her catalog purchases online, like a majority of catalog customers.
Falagario said she finds time to thumb through most of the catalogs, even the ones she didn’t request. “I would be sad if they stop doing catalogs,” she said.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- 7 common ways to get sued by your employees
- Why it might be time to upgrade your toilet
- Arizona teachers are building a better future by using technology in the classroom
- How to make summer reading fun for the whole family
- How to find relief for chronic joint pain
- Can the NBA Lottery save the Suns?
- Skip Urgent Care: 5 ailments you can treat with telemedicine
- Skin Cancer in Arizona: Stats, facts and new immunotherapy drugs making strides
- Distracted walking injuries end up not so funny
- Scary situations: 5 quick tips before you let a contractor in your home
- Four ways telemedicine is changing the health care industry
- 5 mistakes homeowners make in the spring
- Three rivers run through it: Exploring Arizona's waterways
- Smart home basics: things you need to know to get started
- 5 Surprising things causing back pain
- Arizona agriculture is a $17.1B industry
- Timeline: Arizona's roots in brewing history
- 5 reasons to love the D-backs this season
- Tips for taking your home entertainment experience to the backyard
- Tech-related injuries your parents never experienced
- Workers comp: Signs your co-worker could be a fraud
- Who's the real founder of America's pastime?
- Epidemic rising? What you need to know about Alzheimer's in Arizona
- 5 unforgettable Wooden Award winners
- Family and hard work are keys to success of modern dairy farmers
- Genetic testing could hold answers for colon cancer survival
- Cold beers and baseball: A beer lover's guide to Spring Training
- Telecommuting: 5 tips to make it work for employers and employees
- See how top CFOs feel about economic growth in the Valley
- Migraine myths that keep patients from effective treatments