Waiting for the Upturn
Cautiously optimistic is how I’d describe the mood at the Annual Catalog Conference held in San Francisco last month.
Cost-cutting tactics have helped many catalogers to weather this economic downturn, although everyone understands that such strategies are not the path to long-term growth — only short-term survival. Catalogers know they soon will have to invest again in their businesses to kick-start the growth trend.
I found it encouraging, then, to hear that ad spending related to catalogs is up. It will exceed $15.3 billion this year, up 3.4 percent from 2002, according to a study from The Direct Marketing Association (DMA).
While that’s undoubtedly good news and shows that catalogers clearly are investing in their businesses, that 3.4-percent growth rate is down markedly from the 6.2-percent compounded annual growth rate during the past five years, noted The DMA. Hence, the mood: cautiously optimistic. Catalogers are willing to spend some resources to ensure the health of their businesses, but not as much as they’ve spent in prior years.
In other news, The DMA reports that catalog sales will reach $132.8 billion in 2003, up 5.6 percent from 2002. Meanwhile, total U.S. retail sales are forecast to grow 4.1 percent. So catalogers are continuing to gain a greater share of customers’ wallets. For more on the research results, see page 11.
Catalogers of the Year
With this issue we congratulate the 2003 Catalog Success Catalogers of the Year:
Ashton Harrison, president, Shades of Light;
Paul DiGiovanni, president, Autom;
Charlotte Harrell, co-founder, Harrell Farms; and
Lillian Vernon, founder of Lillian Vernon Corp.
Special thanks to Spencer Press for sponsoring a recent celebration for the winners.
Advisory Board Members
You’ll notice a few new names on the Catalog Success Editorial Advisory Board beginning with this issue. We extend a warm welcome to: