Overall retail sales are down, and the catalog/multichannel sector is no exception. The housing market stinks. And while in the past you could often find promising trends in sales of home furnishings when housing sales were down and consumers reverted to nesting, that’s not the case now. That’s reality, and I’m afraid we can’t mask all this bad news with a runaway success story on the cover this month. But there are plenty of things you can learn from Frederick’s of Hollywood about weathering tough times. Although there are bigger success stories out there, Frederick’s has been trying to dig itself out

Catalog owners tend to assess their year-earlier performance while on a short break after the holiday sales period, and often come back to the office ready to change or improve their positions. Simply, they ask themselves if last year was enough; now can I/should I sell out? And if so, what the devil are the next steps?

The proper answer requires you to ask yourself a number of questions:

1. Why are you selling?
2. What growth “storyline” have you accumulated (for a good valuation)?
3. If this is, indeed, the right time to exit, should it be all-at-once, or via a phased-out program for you and your

The latest wave of consolidation in the catalog/multichannel business is quite different than consolidations past. That's always easy for us media folk to say, but if you're not among those doing the buying or selling, here's why this matters to you. The recent flurry of acquisitions has been driven by the need to secure large economies of scale. And like most things in our lives, all signs lead to one key factor: oil. Skyrocketing fuel costs are driving up freight costs. Many smaller and medium-sized catalogers can't — or soon won't be able to — afford rising shipping rates and

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