JC Penney to stop publishing 'big book' catalogsAP – 11 hours agoPLANO, Texas — J.C. Penney will stop publishing its twice-yearly “big book” catalogs, now that customers increasingly shop online.Instead, J.C. Penney Co. says it will publish specialty catalogs and focus its efforts online, on the Web site jcp.com and on social networks. In part, the company says it is responding to consumer habits to view catalogs more as “look books.”The Plano, Texas, company will continue to publish its Christmas catalog and others, such as the “Little Red Book” for women's apparel and “Matters of Style” for men.Eliminating the hefty twice-a-year catalogs will cut the company's paper use by 25 percent to 30 percent in 2010.
J.C. Penney is turning last page on its Big Book
01:10 PM CST on Wednesday, November 18, 2009
By MARIA HALKIAS / The Dallas Morning News
The J.C. Penney Co. Big Book is dead – a victim of shoppers’ growing reliance on the Internet.
Plano-based Penney confirmed that its fall/winter 2009 catalog is its last semiannual, telephone-book-size volume.
Latest J.C. Penney news
Link: J.C. Penney Web site
The Internet has made the 1,000-page shopping venue obsolete, and printing and transportation costs have been rising annually. The move also improves Penney’s environmental footprint, reducing its catalog paper use by 30 percent next year.
Smaller, more frequent mailings of specialty catalogs targeting customers’ shopping habits make more sense today, said Mike Boylson, Penney’s chief marketing officer.
“It became a very ineffective way to communicate to our customers,” he said. “It forced us to bring product in too early and locked in pricing. It was an outdated way of shopping and the last big book in America.”
Penney has catalogs supporting its large home-goods business, including its private label Cooks kitchen catalog and Rooms Babies Love. Along with several women’s and men’s apparel catalogs, the company determined that shoppers increasingly use catalogs as “look books” and inspiration for their store and online purchases.
In the last two years, Penney consolidated its buying and marketing teams, which previously operated separately for stores, catalog and Internet sales.
“We had two buyers of everything, like Noah’s Ark,” he said. “The biggest, more important store items weren’t even in the catalog.”
Big Book sales have been on a decline since 2000 as more shoppers turn to jcp.com. Penney’s online sales hit $1 billion a year in 2006.
“It has an aging customer. Younger customers don’t shop the Big Book,” Boylson said.
Once 1,500 pages, Penney’s Big Book dropped to well below 900 pages a few years ago. Since 2003, Penney has been shrinking its catalog operation, closing fulfillment centers and telemarketing operations. By 2004, about 40 percent of Penney’s catalog shoppers were placing orders on jcp.com, instead of calling an 800 number.
Sales peaked in 1999 at about $4 billion. Penney stopped breaking out its catalog and Internet sales a few years ago. Penney’s Big Book circulation topped out at 14 million. It printed 9 million copies of the final volume.