While 2009 was a year to forget for most retailers, fortunately 2010 was a different story for direct mailers and e-marketers from the beginning of the year to the very end.
For example, in 2009, holiday sales were stagnant at best. But the 2010 holiday season included much more shopping than anticipated. In fact, according to the recent report from MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulseTM, the overall season-over-season growth was 5.5 percent.
SpendingPulse, the macroeconomic report tracking national retail and services sales, measured the 50-day period from November 5 to December 24, and found that eCommerce was the biggest winner this year, as seasonal sales went up 15.4 percent (and the bad weather didn't hurt the online community, unlike the big box stores). In terms of categories, apparel performed very well, growing 11.2 percent.
To get a read on direct mail, we have to dive into our own Who's Mailing What! Archive, the most complete library of direct mail in the world. Looking at the year until the end of the third quarter, retail direct mail volume takes up a larger part of the mailstream (7.1 percent) than either 2009 or 2008. In fact, it's a 13 percent increase from 2009 alone.
Several other trends are visible. Repeat mail is down to only 3.4 percent of all retail efforts, a drop of nearly 30 percent from 2008 and 2009. In other words, retailers are sending out more new efforts than ever before. Oddly, in the age of personalization, that tactic is actually down to only 4.7 percent of all retail efforts in 2010 — a drop of 32 percent from 2008.
Meanwhile, the premium tactic was on the rise. Offering a gift or discount of some kind to prospects who make a purchase is a long practiced strategy among retailers, but it had sunk to only 10 percent of efforts in 2008 and 2009. This year, however, premium offers went up by 22 percent compared to those years.