Impact Of Harvey On Your Catalog

I don’t need to tell you how bad the damage is from Hurricane Harvey in south Texas and now Louisiana. Being 1,800 miles away in New England, I can’t begin to imagine how bad the conditions must be.

However, several clients have asked what, if anything, they should be doing with regards to their upcoming mailings and whether they should suppress mail in that area.

Immediate Impact:

Your printer has probably forwarded you a list of US Post Offices that are closed or are not delivering mail in the immediate Houston area and is already advising you on which ZIP codes to avoid/suppress because your catalogs just won’t get delivered. In past instances during major storms which impacted mail delivery, bulk mail (catalogs) was discarded by the US Postal Service, as they lack the space to store it while they try to re-open post offices.  The USPS has a list of closed post offices (click here) with their status of operations updated daily which your printer is closely following.

But, if you are just in the final stages of completing a merge – either here at Datamann or your own service bureau – that mailing probably won’t be hitting home for at least two to three weeks. In many cases, some of the closed post offices in the flooded area will have re-opened by then. What to do?

I think you should take a hard look at your catalog and ask yourself if the people that have just gone through this horrific disaster are really going to be in a mood in 3 weeks or even 6 weeks to look at your catalog. You may want to suppress all catalogs from the Houston area until at least early October, because there is not going to be a quick “return to normal”. I know Texans are resilient, and they will bounce back, but be reasonable with your expectations as to how important your catalog will be to them right now.

Further Impact:

It was different in 2012, when Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey and New York, at which time I felt that most catalogs would suffer a 10% drop in response nationwide for the balance of the holiday season, simply because of the distraction which the news coverage was causing to the average consumer. But that storm hit the first week of November, during most catalog’s peak Christmas catalog delivery.

Harvey hit before Labor Day, and most of you have much smaller Fall circulation in the mail at the moment. So, although response from consumers nationwide is off this week, I don’t expect it will have lingering impact on the rest of the Fall/Holiday season.

Everyone at Datamann extends our heartfelt concerns and prayers to the folks along the Gulf Coast, and we hope for a speedy recovery.

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by Bill LaPierre

VP – Business Intelligence and Analytics

Datamann – 800-451-4263 x235