The Big Book is Back
JCPenney Co. is bringing back its catalog. The new, 120-page book will feature items from JCPenney’s home department and will be sent to select customers next month. This marks the first time the department store chain has sent out a catalog since 2010. The JCPenney catalog won’t be sent out to everyone at first. Instead, JCPenney will be focusing on people who have bought housewares from the company in the past.
The reason for the return of the JCPenney catalog is that it actually helped the company make more online sales. Data shows that 31% of shoppers use catalogs when shopping online, The Consumerist noted. The new JCPenney catalog won’t have options for ordering from it, but will instead act like a book ad for the company’s products.
There was once a time when this semiannual catalog represented the top fashion trends of the season and styles that the average consumer could afford. When Sears closed its catalog business in 1993, JCPenney became the largest catalog retailer in the United States. Sales peaked in 1999 at about $4 billion. Once 1,500 pages, JCPenney’s Big Book circulation topped out at 14 million catalogs.
At a time when most retailers have ended their catalog distribution, it may seem odd that JCPenney decided to start back up again. But keep in mind, Victoria’s Secrets’ catalog continues to be a driving force for the top women’s retailer. Although the percent of sales directly from its catalog has dwindled, the leading company still attributes its growing online sales to the periodical.
Catalogs aren’t the same as they were decades ago and consumers aren’t using them the same way either. Mailing the thin catalogs out helps, but it’s the online version that gets the traffic and can be attributed to sales. We know Victoria’s Secret Stores uses their photo shoots for social media and advertising, and the company is certainly leading its industry. I for one am excited to see the new JCPenney catalog and wish the struggling retailer the best of luck.