Postal hike doesn’t stop catalogers from stuffing mailboxes

Dec 15, 2021, 2:28 PM | Updated: Dec 16, 2021, 5:36 am
FILE- In this Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, file photo, a selection of catalogs are displayed in Freeport,...

FILE- In this Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, file photo, a selection of catalogs are displayed in Freeport, Maine. A big postal rate increase over the summer hasn't stopped catalog retailers from stuffing mailboxes this holiday season. The U.S. Postal Service says more than 300 million catalogs flooded into people's mailboxes last month and that overall the number of catalogs has grown 12% over last year. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, files)

(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, files)

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A big postal rate increase over the summer hasn’t stopped catalog retailers from stuffing mailboxes this holiday season.

The U.S. Postal Service says more than 300 million catalogs flooded into people’s mailboxes last month, and the overall number of catalogs has grown 12% over last year, officials said.

The boost continues a positive trend for catalogers that are defying those who predicted their demise in a digital world.

“The industry is not dying. There are plenty of companies that are still aggressively mailing catalogs,” said Paul Miller, vice president and deputy director of the American Catalog Mailers Association.

Some online retailers like Bonobos, Amazon and Wayfair began mailing catalogs in recent years. A few that went away, like the Sharper Image and J. Peterman, have returned. Heavyweights like Lands’ End, Hammacher Schlemmer and L.L. Bean never wavered.

Several factors are working in favor of catalog retailers.

For starters, digital advertising on e-commerce websites has grown as much as 20% to 40% this year even as privacy policy changes — Apple’s efforts in particular — have made it more difficult to target ads and measure their effectiveness, said Andrew Lipsman, retail analyst at eMarketer.

Further, some find online shopping difficult to navigate — a space that is jumbled thanks to algorithms, marketing and advertising, analysts say, making it hard for people to find what they want.

Jonathan Zhang, a professor of marketing at Colorado State University, said another important factor is that catalog and store shoppers are more loyal to brands than people who shop online only.

His research found a higher return on investment from catalogs because those shoppers buy more than online-only shoppers.

The internet’s clutter tends to produce shoppers who search for specific things, preventing the “serendipitous discoveries” that shoppers make while browsing in a store or catalog, he said.

New York shopper Helen Kaplow acknowledges it’s easier to thumb through catalogs and circle items of interest or dog-ear the pages, rather than scrolling through websites. One of her favorite catalogs around this time of the year is from The Vermont Country store.

“Catalogs do seem a bit old-fashioned. They’re so analog. But I think it may be their only way of getting visuals in front of you,” said Kaplow, who hasn’t set foot in a store in years.

Nonetheless, catalogs remain expensive to print and mail.

The U.S. Postal Service gave a one-two punch to the industry this year with a 3% postage increase in January followed by an additional, unexpected increase of nearly 9% implemented in August.

But consumer spending remains hot and catalogs are a way for retailers to differentiate themselves, so it makes sense for retailers who can afford to distribute catalogs to do so, Lipsman said.

Catalog numbers dropped about 40% between 2006 to 2018, when an estimated 11.5 billion were mailed to homes, but they’ve stabilized and are showing signs of an uptick in volume, according to Miller at the ACMA.

Miller said catalogs won’t be going away anytime soon, partly because they have staying power compared to the fleeting impact of email, online advertisements and other digital communication.

“People are used to clicking and moving on, but the catalog is still sitting there on your coffee table. It’s going to continue to entice you to shop,” he said.


Follow David Sharp on Twitter at

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Blackbaud, Acuity Brands rise; AXT, KalVista fall

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks that traded heavily or had substantial price changes Tuesday: Blackbaud Inc., up $8.12 to $53.13. Clearlake Capital disclosed an 18.4% stake in the software and services provider focused on the nonprofit sector. Poshmark Inc., up $2.04 to $17.61. The online marketplace for second-hand goods is being bought by Naver. AXT […]
14 hours ago
FILE - Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signs a bill in Oklahoma City on March 30, 2022, that prevents tra...
Associated Press

Oklahoma governor urges action on anti-transgender medicine

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill Tuesday targeting medical treatments for transgender youth and called on the GOP-controlled Legislature to impose a statewide ban when it returns in February. The bill signed by the first-term Republican, who is up for reelection next month, authorizes more than $108 million in federal […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Lawyer: Trump ‘eager’ for deposition in rape accuser case

NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer for ex-President Donald Trump said Tuesday that her client is “ready and eager” to sit for a deposition in the defamation case of a woman who says he raped her in the 1990s, but she’s nevertheless asking that it be postponed. Attorney Alina Habba wrote to a Manhattan federal […]
14 hours ago
Attorneys of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, Phillip Linder, left, and James Lee Bright, arrive...
Associated Press

Oath Keepers founder: Be ‘ready to fight’ after Trump loss

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hours after Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 presidential election, the leader of the Oath Keepers extremist group was discussing how to push President Donald Trump to go further in his fight to cling to power, according to messages shown to jurors Tuesday in his U.S. Capitol attack trial. […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

Man charged with damaging Scott Joplin House

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A man was charged Tuesday with breaking into the historic home of ragtime composer Scott Joplin and causing tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. Thirty-eight-year-old Kevin Daley-Bey faces one count each of second-degree burglary and first-degree property damage. No attorney is listed for him in online court records. Police […]
14 hours ago
Associated Press

UN envoy: Iraq is `highly volatile’ and leaders must talk

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. special envoy for Iraq warned Tuesday that the situation in the country remains “highly volatile” nearly a year after last October’s elections failed to form a government, saying all sides have made “strategic mistakes” and it’s now time for all Iraqi leaders to hold talks “and pull the country […]
14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Postal hike doesn’t stop catalogers from stuffing mailboxes