Mail order soars as print shines in home shopping boom

catalogue_1Mail order catalogues have witnessed a major Covid “bounce” to become one of the fastest growing sectors in the world as home shoppers seemingly reinforce the enduring power of print.

UK merchant payment provider Dojo, part of Paymentsense, used data from Yahoo Finance and Purchase Intent to analyse and rank different sectors’ performance to uncover which industries benefited from the “unforeseen changes” in consumers’ lifestyles during the period from March to November 2020 of the pandemic.

While the rise of ecommerce has been well documented, catalogues grew by almost 350% last year. Dojo suggests that this could be related to the growing mistrust and controversy surrounding online giants like Amazon and Asos.

But one thing is sure, with most consumers spending more time at home due to the pandemic restrictions, the medium is enjoying a renaissance.

The revival supports the UK “catalogue king” Nigel Swabey’s recent claims that the increase in home working caused by Covid-19 has boosted his business. However, Swabey goes even further, insisting that the coronavirus has set in motion a trend that is likely to last well beyond the end of lockdown.

Last November, the man behind Scotts & Co, Scotts of Stow, Bloom and The Traditional Garden Supply Company launched a programme offering over 200 million targeted inserts, having seen response rates to the firm’s catalogue mailings soar by over 75% compared with 2019.

Swabey added: “Consumers are going to be spending more time at home in future. With so many having discovered the sheer convenience of direct home shopping over the past six months, the response to personally-addressed advertising mail is now greater than ever.”

Ironically, Ikea has halted the presses on its print catalogue after 70 years of publication as part of the Swedish flatpack retailer’s plans to put digital at the heart of its business. The company said the most recent edition of the Ikea Catalogue will be its last, although it insisted it would publish a book in autumn 2021, filled with home furnishing inspiration and knowledge.

Mail order has not been the only beneficiary of lockdown, however, with the home furnishing market rising 458.3% as shoppers invested in homes which now double as offices.

Meanwhile sports clothing and equipment saw a 305% growth thanks to a rise in home workouts, with building and DIY (287%) and silver (174%) making up the top five.

Dojo head of consumer insights Jon Knott said: “Last year saw changing fortunes in the economy, which have forced retailers to face some of the toughest challenges in generations. Circumstances beyond control have led to rapid consumer shifts, that were previously unheard of.

“A lot of retailers have pivoted in order to survive, with some understandably being unable to do so.

“But we’ve also seen other businesses thrive during this time. Our findings confirm that while it may have been a tough year for everyone, many industries will come out of the other side, with some maybe even stronger than ever in 2021.”

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