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How No Saturday Delivery by USPS will Affect Catalog Businesses

This is another guest blog posting from our good friend, Bill LaPierre at Datamann, a full service list processor.  Please check out Bill’s blog by clicking here.

No Saturday Delivery and the Five Pound Bag

As I write this Saturday morning (February 9), the tail end of a fairly decent snowstorm is falling at my home in southern New Hampshire (24+ inches so far). The US Post Office announced last night on the local TV station (we only have one in NH) that they would be closed statewide today – Saturday – because of the storm.   I guess since the Postmaster General announced earlier this week that he had decided to curtail all Saturday delivery nationwide starting in August, local postal administrators now feel empowered to make similar sweeping ad hoc decisions.

What does the loss of Saturday delivery mean to catalogs? It means that the proverbial ten pounds of dirt are going to be pushed into a five pound bag – or in postal terms, all the catalogs formally delivered in six days will now be squeezed down to five.

However, it is not quite that simple. Because of co-mail pools, most catalogs are riding through the postal system with other catalogs. The majority of catalogs are pooled for delivery on Monday to Thursday in-home dates. That means that the catalogs are following through the system the prior Thursday through Saturday. From what has been shared with me by catalog printers, the USPS uses Monday to focus primarily on first and 2nd classes of mail, not catalogs. This is then followed by a big spike in catalog delivery on Tuesday into Wednesday.  With no prior week Saturday delivery, there could be as much as 15% to 25% more catalogs being pushed into those peak volume days mid-week compared to prior years.

That’s not all. There is another wrinkle to this. The “other” weekly catalog pools aim for in-home delivery from Thursday through Saturday. The mailers that have historically opted for those pools, may now opt for participating in the Monday to Thursday in-home pool. This will make those already huge co-mail pools even larger – and even have the possibility of giving catalogers some additional postal savings by being in that larger pool.

So what’s the big deal? In time, you will learn through your decoy reporting how much your catalog is being delayed, and you will adjust your order curves for inventory planning accordingly. What you won’t be able to measure is the impact of all those other catalogs hitting in the mailbox at the same time as yours, especially if a large percentage of mailers start shifting to the earlier-in-the-week in-home pool.

It is possible that 80% of your household’s weekly catalog delivery, could all occur on one day.  Wow! Try standing out in the crowd when that happens. If your creative is weak, and your merchandise is not performing – you’re not going to compete well in a mail box full of strong competitors.

As I mentioned in a posting last fall (Do You Want To Compete Against Just One or 22? ), my wife I get a ton of catalogs at home – over 3,000 unique books a year. Last fall, I noticed numerous weeks when I would receive 1 or 2 catalogs per day (probably books that were not in a co-mail pool) and then we would get slammed with 20 to 30 books in one day.

Granted, your average customer does not receive the volume of books I do. But you have to be aware that when there is no more Saturday delivery, your catalog is going to join a lot of other catalogs in arriving at your customer’s house on the same day. Isn’t it time to start making your catalog more effective? Start planning your catalog growth strategy now. If you want help, call me.

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by Bill LaPierre

VP – Business Intelligence and Analytics

Datamann – 802-295-6600 x235


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