Facing post office cuts, catalog shoppers reportedly boosting sales

Written by By Zoraida Sambolin, CNN

If you think the post office’s recently announced plan to hike stamp prices is bad news for you, there’s a new source of unease: catalogs.

The Postmaster General said on August 14 that the agency would raise postage rates by 2 cents to 57 cents per stamp to help maintain a steady stream of revenue — and to discourage bad behavior like “shipping lots of items by junk mail.”

He also warned that post offices would begin rationing collection hours and may even curtail Saturday deliveries in certain areas.

But catalog manufacturers are reportedly not running for the hills, in spite of the costlier stamps. According to Reuters, customer response to catalogs during the first quarter of 2018 was at its best in a decade, sending revenue for catalogs to $30.5 billion, a 7.7% jump from last year.

“The overall mailing and shipping industry is facing some difficult challenges right now,” Jack Moore, the CEO of catalogue giant IG catalogues told Reuters.

“One of the better performing segments is catalogs, partly because catalogs are now in digital packaging. It removes some of the traditional materials and can be sent faster.”

The fast growth in catalogs is likely due to a spike in individuals and small businesses ordering them instead of boxed items, according to Heidi Schroeter, assistant professor of marketing at The Ohio State University.

Outdoor advertising is expected to see some of the biggest cost increases. Postal officials said that advertising has already been one of the bright spots since the agency began raising stamp prices in April.

But Mr. Moore said he’d be “scratching my head to see what has changed,” when asked if this was the case.

Deaton Wadsworth, the deputy chairman of the National Association of Letter Carriers and a postmaster in New York City, told Reuters that there wasn’t much catalogs can do to keep pace with the postal service.

“I don’t think they’re losing out to a postal program,” Wadsworth said. “The ability to put catalogs out is still very limited and they’re at an advantage because they’re an over-the-counter business with international shipping and both traditional and other products.”

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