Land Locked

March 1999


Land Locked

Catalog retailers face their worst nightmares: retail catalogers

You may be able to beat catalog merchandisers at their own game. Retailers with stores who also sell through their own catalogs are gaining an advantage over mail-order companies with no physical space.

Lands' End, a catalog retailer of mostly casual and outdoorsy clothing, reported a nine-month decline in sales last year because of increased competition from catalogs introduced by specialty and department stores, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.Recognizing the synergy between stores and catalogs, mail-only businesses such as J. Crew have scrambled to open stores.

Stores can target specific audiences with their catalogs (such as Abercrombie & Fitch's focus on teens or Macy's appeal to baby boomers). These can drive traffic into stores so even if catalog sales falter, results may show in overall retail turnover.

In addition, catalog-only retailers can't quickly dispose of unsold merchandise the way retail stores can with clearance sales. In 1998, for example, Lands' End carried over much of its inventory from 1997 and continued to push it at full price.

– by Stacey King

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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