It’s nearly Halloween, and it’s a particularly scary time for retailers heading into the heart of the holiday season. According to a recent National Retail Federation survey, two-thirds of families admit that the economy will affect their holiday shopping plans this year. More folks will be shopping for sales, using coupons, buying more practical gifts, and purchasing joint gifts for kids or parents.
How will retail mailers deal with it? Let’s take a look at 2009 up until the end of August, the last month we have cataloged in our Who’s Mailing What! Archive, and compare it to 2008 and 2007. Because of the drop in financial mail, retailers actually take up a larger percentage of the mailstream this year, almost at 9 percent—an 11 percent leap from last year and a mind-blowing 42 percent jump from 2007. And this is before the holiday season, when the mailboxes may be more jammed than ever with retailers trying to get folks to their stores.
One can also expect more special offers and economic-themed creative from mailers this holiday season, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at the mail so far this year. The percentage of control mail is actually up in 2009, at nearly half the efforts; that represents a 5 percent increase from last year and 21 percent jump from 2007.
Similarly, retailers may send out more premiums than usual this holiday season to entice prospects, but the 2009 mail so far doesn’t tell that story. Only 39.3 percent of retail mail has a premium offer, which is down from 46 percent in 2008 and 44.5 percent in 2007.
Lastly, the jury is out on the use of personalization and the self-mailer format. Personalization is up by a few percentage points from 2008, to 15.1 percent, but that still represents a 1 percentage point drop from 2007. Self-mailers actually slid by one percentage point from 2008, but their usage has increased by 17 percent since 2007. Perhaps more use of this format will come holiday time? We shall see!