In with the old: consumers want Christmas catalogs

In the thick of the holiday season and again with a booming e-commerce it’s hard to believe there’s an old standby possibly only we senior citizens can recall.
It’s reported many national retailers this year are taking a fresh look at an old holiday wish book known as a “Christmas catalog.”
One observer said, even in a time of explosive growth for online buying, retailers and shoppers are showing a renewed interest in that humble purchasing device that uses paper instead of pixels. Fewer catalogs are in the mail these days compared to the peak 2007 year when 19.6 billion were sent out. However, even more customers are paying attention to them. Response to catalogs increased 23 percent from the year before.
The catalog report found in a recent newspaper story along with a rusty pair of clamp-on roller skates tucked away in the basement near my old electric train brought back fond memories to me.
Those skates were the first item I ever ordered from a catalog. I was spending a few weeks with my grandparents and had a twinge of homesickness. That’s when my grandparents pulled out the Sears & Roebuck catalog and we shopped where I found a pair of skates catching my interest.
My homesickness disappeared and was replaced with what seemed like an eternity of anxiety before a box containing a pair of skates arrived nearly a week later.
While I still get a smile on my face thinking about receiving my catalog order and enjoying those skates, I also am well aware of the changing marketing methods. Even with new marketing technics it’s hard to match the arrival of one of those old-fashioned wish books.
Looking back at Christmases past, we recall before we had the ability to print full color in our newspaper we would add “color” by printing on green or pink newsprint in observance of the Christmas season. We always received lots of comments. We had a problem with one of our holiday readers and ceased to use the light green color.
The subscriber on arrival at home had begun to read his newspaper and practically called the doctor before he realized the tint wasn’t his eyes or stomach, but just the color of the newspaper.
RL Furse  is publisher emeritus of the News-Register

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