Retail Traffic Drivers
Seasonality is a key issue for retail mailers, as shoppers’ in-store habits do tend to wax and wane throughout the year. As a result, this sector’s mailing habits fluctuate as well.
Case in point is the volume with which these brick-and-mortar shops mail, with the perennially light shopping seasons of winter and early spring bringing in the lowest numbers. For the period of January through April 2005, 4.2 percent of the mail received by the Who’s Mailing What! Archive came from the retail sector. This percentage climbed to 6.9 percent for the summer months of May through August, and dropped just slightly to 6.1 percent for the rest of the year. 2006 is off to a similar start with 5 percent of the Archive’s January through April mail coming from retailers.
Sweepstakes is another area affected by season. The first four months of 2006 saw very few retail sweepstakes—just 1.3 percent of retail efforts mailed from January through April. But if history is any indication, that number should rise as the year progresses. Thanks to a strong showing for the tactic in late summer/early fall, retailers ended 2005 with 2.9 percent sweeps usage, after logging just 1.4 percent in the first four months of the year.
Another key point about retailers is how much their mailing habits differ from the rest of the mailstream, particularly with regard to the use of such tactics as personalization, premiums and self-mailers. April 2006, for example, brought personalization rates in this sector of just 7.4 percent, well off the overall mailstream’s 37.5 percent. Premiums were also pretty scarce, appearing in 14.7 percent of retail efforts. This number, however, is more on par with the rest of the mailstream, which came in at 20.2 percent.
But it’s in self-mailers versus envelopes where retailers really differentiate themselves. In April 2006, 92.6 percent of retail efforts were self-mailers, while 36.6 percent of the overall mail arrived in self-mailer format. And it’s important to note that this number is bolstered quite a bit by the retail sector; take it out of the equation and the mailstream was only 32 percent self-mailers. Among retail self-mailers, 6” x 9” and close variations were the most popular sizes, accounting for about 19 percent of efforts; variations on the standard 4” x 6” postcard were second at 16 percent.