The U.S. gross domestic product clocked a 4.4 percent gain in 2004, its strongest showing since 1999 when the economy gained 4.5 percent, according to the Commerce Department. And economists called the 3.1 percent gain in the fourth quarter “respectable.”
Good news, right? Well, sort of.
Our third-annual ranking of the Top 200 catalogers (as measured by housefile-growth rates) shows there still is some softness in the market. Of the 1,067 catalogs whose housefile numbers we checked, only 406, or 38 percent, recorded any growth at all. (For those readers who are new to cataloging, housefiles are customer lists.)
That overall economic trend aside, we did discern some interesting stories in the data this year. For example, catalogers selling home and garden products accounted for 43, or about one-fifth, of the fastest-growing housefiles. Makes sense given that homeownership has reached an all-time high in the United States. Consumers have to fill all those living rooms, kitchens, front porches, sunrooms, bathrooms, gardens, bedrooms, lawns, garages and playrooms with something.
Merchants offering those somethings fared well in 2004, including Gurney’s Seed & Nursery (No. 2), Burpee (No. 10), Restoration Hardware (No. 23), Ballard Designs (No. 27), and Home Focus (No. 29).
Other product categories that recorded strong showings:
- apparel and footwear (26 of the top 200),
- food (17),
- sporting goods (16), and
- kids’ products (8).
Moreover, 18 business-to-business catalogers made the list, including Stationery House (No. 18), Graphik Dimensions (No. 21) and Anatomical Chart Co. (No. 43).
Last but not least, we congratulate Supergo for making the No. 1 spot this year. This merchant of cycling products recorded a 186 percent growth rate. Nice job!
For the complete list of the top 200 catalogs as measured by housefile growth, please turn to our coverage beginning on page 15. You’ll also find in that section our methodology for compiling the list. And if you’re interested in seeing last year’s Top 200 list, return to the homepage, www.catalogsuccess.com, where the 2004 list is available (through this month only) from a link at the bottom of our page.