The ascent of e-commerce and rising postage prices haven’t kept retailers from stuffing mailboxes nationwide with good old-fashioned catalogs. More than 300 million of them have gone out in the last month, the U.S. Postal Service says, and this year has seen as 12% increase in catalog deliveries.
“The industry is not dying. There are plenty of companies that are still aggressively mailing catalogs,” Paul Miller, vice president and deputy director of the American Catalog Mailers Association, told the Associated Press.
Despite higher prices (the USPS raised rates by 3% in January and a further 9% in August), clothing companies still find the mailers are worth their while. There are still plenty of shoppers, particularly older ones, who take comfort in the familiarity of flipping through the pages.
“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,” New Yorker Helen Kaplow, who told the AP she hasn’t been in a department store in years, said.
Brand loyalty keeps shoppers returning to stores they’ve bought items they loved and had for years, and the catalog holds a world of promise. Plus, while e-commerce sites are convenient, they can be visually overwhelming if they’re crammed with too many ads and other distractions. And if the retailer hasn’t garnered the shopper’s loyalty and they don’t have a virtual cart full of items waiting for them, they might not be back.
Even online retailers with no physical stores such as Bonobos are trying to insert their brands into the minds of shoppers with catalogs in the mail.
“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,” Miller said.
And while e-commerce will dominate in the decades to come, for now we still live and shop in the physical world more often.