80th anniversary of the Woolworth catalog (2023)


80th anniversary of the Woolworth catalog (1)

80th anniversary of the Woolworth catalog (2)

In the early 20th century, only luxury department stores and mail-order companies published catalogs. In 1929, F.W. Woolworth Co. norm during the celebration of the 50th anniversary. He printed a million home shopping guides and distributed them to customers across North America. This simple booklet was so popular that many saved it for posterity. Instead of listing each line, it uses text and modern art illustrations to show the types of items sold in each department.

From the beginning, when Earl Perry Charlton and Fred Kirby took over the brand west of the Rocky Mountains, expanded stores compensated for higher shipping costs by raising premium prices to 15 cents. Thus, two editions were produced, with the words "Not over 10 cents" or "Not over 15 cents" printed on the cover. That reflects the chain's traditional price of 15 cents higher to offset higher shipping costs west of the Rockies. limit.

In the months since publication, many store managers have been surprised by the number of people carrying the booklet and asking to be directed to the lines they and their partners have chosen at home.

80th anniversary of the Woolworth catalog (3)

See more pages of the Home Shopping Guide.

80th anniversary of the Woolworth catalog (4)80th anniversary of the Woolworth catalog (5)

In 1931, the shares of the British subsidiary Woolworth were listed on the London Stock Exchange. The company continued to engage in print advertising for its best-selling products, coinciding with major store openings.

In 1938, stores began offering a book entitled Theit's good to knowA portion costs threepence (1⁄p).

Early "advertorials" mixed articles and vendor ads and featured the store's best sellers and how to use them. Millions of copies have been sold.

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schedule another timeit's good to knowAfter Britain declared war on Germany in 1939, the building was redesigned. The simple, unpretentious layout is the opposite of the New American approach.

After the hardships of the Great Depression, the United States entered a period of prosperity. An increase in income means that people have more money to spend. Woolworth decided to use it to showcase its new product line. In five years, 5 & 10 Cents has reduced its price ceilings and become a more diverse grocer. In the utmost secrecy, the executives prepared a color Christmas catalog, which was published in November 1939. The competitors were surprised. The publication proved to be a game changer.

The layout is modern and cheerful. It evokes images of a traditional, peaceful family Christmas.

Londonit's good to knowMuch more sober. The red cover includes plain black and white pages, printed on low quality paper. Articles on military markings and how to spot enemy aircraft are accompanied by line drawings, with instructions on how to tint windows and how to prepare for an air raid. Products for repairing shoes, clothes and furniture, all of which are in short supply, are advertised, and it is explained how to "save and repair". Deep inside was a small announcement that Woolworth had reluctantly dropped the sixpence price limit on stock purchases.

page 10

Woolworth's world is very small

forward! Action toys march from the sky, sea and land! Uniforms, ammunition and ships are from US Army and Navy models. Lead soldiers with searchlights, parachutes, cannons, radios, antennas, engines, tanks, mortars, motorcycles, machine guns, planes...a whole army! The rubber battleship was painted dark gray and the lead toy was painted khaki.

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5 cents and 10 cents each!

Despite strong anti-war sentiment in the United States, news of the "war in Europe" sparked a boom in military toys. In retrospect, it's hard to ignore the irony of Woolworth's response. The catalog features a two-page photograph of distinguished soldiers, sailors and airmen painted in khaki looking out over a sea of ​​dinghies and submarines anchored at US bases. Some of these items are made in Japan.

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More than thirty years later, another catalog was published in Great Britain. In an emergency, shops are bustling as limited paper supplies are used for morale-boosting itemsthe mighty leprechaun comic. These measures proved very effective in distracting the children, who were forced to spend a horrible night in the shelter as bombs fell on them.blitz. After the war, British stores had such a dominant position on the market that catalogs were considered redundant.

In the 1950s, Woolworths in the US faced even greater challenges. These stores faced stiff competition from the S.S. Kresge, J.J. Newberry, W.T. Grant and Kress. Executives fought back with catalogs and advertising, showing great skill and creativity to attract a new generation of shoppers by targeting price-conscious children and young families. Today, grand strategy can be controversial. The catalogs were disguised as cartoons and distributed to children. Executives apparently spawned "Entanglement Power," placing bold ads on alternate pages next to comics and encouraging kids to drag their parents into the store to buy toys and games, knowing adults would be drawn in as soon as they set foot inside the store. spend money on toys and games. A number of household items and fine household appliances are on display.

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There are catalogs for housewives, along with full-page color ads in fashion magazines. Instead of depending on third parties, the chain takes care of photography and copywriting itself. The creative team won awards for launching the 'Susan Smart' campaign. The sassy little girl decorated her modern, stylish home from Woolworth's shelves. This evolving story shows families on a budget how to add modern style and comfort without breaking the bank.

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huge naSuccess in the fiftiesSales growth in the UK began to slow as competition from the US moved across the Atlantic. New competitors with lower overhead costs and the latest work methods such as self-service pose a serious challenge. The recession opened the door for greater US intervention. The parent company would sit back while profits soared, but things changed. He initially encouraged a group of advisers to share what they had learned in the US for London to use or lose. But if a gentle touch is met with resistance, a harder line is chosen. New York urges Britain to adopt new rules on the groundRecipe "Woolco"., and useprivate labels only, whose prototype is "Winfield". Matica insisted on increasing marketing expenditures, which required media advertising and a new catalog.

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In response, a new promotional and advertising mix was set up at the London headquarters on Marylebone Road. The first steps are quite cautious. The team booked an advertising feature in the local newspaper for the opening or expansion of the main flagship store. Then they started experimenting with double pages in all the major dailies, with the latest promotions and special offers. Behind the scenes, they are trying to determine which games give the best results. In 1970, they chosedaily mailPublishes the chain's first modern Christmas catalog.

The finished publication is eight pages long and is printed on two folding pages in the center of a popular tabloid. For best value for money, both sides are printed in color and the rest in black and white. Using lifestyle photography, the young family is shown living in a suburban house filled with street delights. About half of the products are toys and games, but food, toiletries, appliances and fine goods are also featured, with moms and dads each having their own page. Dad played one of the latest "fancy" items, an electric organ, while the family could opt for two Empire portable typewriters, considered the height of fashion at the time and a must-have for every aspirant. The future family can't wait to impress their friends.

Public reaction was favorable, although the New York-based parent company described the announcement as a "small step" (in the parlance of the time) that required a "giant leap." Their main criticism is that it is positioned too high, missing out on many loyal customers who prefer the best red newspapers. However, they think it's a great platform to build on.

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The following year, instead of turning to the red tabloids, Woolworths turned to Britain's best-selling magazine Theradio times. This publication of the TV show has become a favorite and sits on the coffee table in most UK households. At the time, the only major competitor was the competitortv time, co-produced by local broadcasters on the ITV network. The rules prohibit one broadcaster from listing the programs of another. 'RT' has established itself as the market leader as the BBC offers two TV channels and a whopping six radio channels, while ITV has just one very popular channel, offering a mix of national and local programmes. Woolworth's research showed that advertising in two magazines was the only way to reach the vast majority of families.

The 1971 and 1972 catalogs shook up the retail industry. This approach had never been attempted before and Woolworth's innovation posed a real threat. As the decade wears on, more retailers compete for a spot in prime week, driving up the cost of space. Ultimately, basic economics convinced Woolworth's board that it would be best to have door-to-door catalogs in major metropolitan areas to complement the effort to distribute catalogs in stores.

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The contents of the catalog show how far Woolworths has come in the market since the heyday of the three and six pence shops. The products on display included luxury items such as electronic pianos, which cost more than £50, the equivalent of more than £200 or $250 in today's money. The company chose to use the publication to showcase all of its new products, mostly records and cassettes, its "luxury" fashions, and a host of time-saving home gadgets, ignoring the thousands of units the company sells for thousands of dollars each day. sold out. dollars bread and butter collection. under a pound.

The push for larger, more expensive products was accelerated when management launched a new chain of catalog stores under the new company name ""customer world. Although born at Woolworths and with the same customers, these stores produced extensive book catalogues, which were traded in different locations (sometimes in stores) and competed with the traditional Woolies stores. The original idea came from Canada. Despite choosing different names for their operations, the two subsidiaries soon agreed to join forces. Canadians choose to name their storesWoolco-katalog Winkel, capitalizing on the local success of the fast-growing out-of-town brand of the same name.

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80th anniversary of the Woolworth catalog (15)

newborn babycustomer worldFacing fierce competition. Its launch prompted Richard Tompkins of the Green Shield Stamps giant to accelerate a planned repositioning. The entrepreneur began accepting cash payments so customers could replenish their stamp collections and changed the chain's branding.ArgosIn July 1973, later that same year he opened his first specialty store forcustomer worldUWoolco-katalog WinkelKeep doing it in secret.

The first Shoppers World stores opened in autumn 1974 in Haywood, Leigh and Nelson in Lancashire, Edgeley in Cheshire, Stockport and Knutsford, West Midlands branches in Tobridge and Birmingham and Liverpool.

Behind the scenes, Woolworth's management invested heavily in building a strong infrastructure to support a large-scale rollout. This includes a head office and warehouse in Heywood, just off the central accounting office on the high street in Castleton, as well as a photography studio and copywriting team (enabling in-house catalog production) as well as a new dedicated customer team.

The large book catalog is printed in full color. It has a wide range of goods, mainly from Woolworths and Woolco. Prices for most products are significantly lower.

Sales of these pilot stores increased thanks to national media advertisements and the popular 'Woolworth by Post' service.radio times. The Heywood team processes and fulfills orders from the warehouse.

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In 1975 Woolworths UK had no less than three product catalogues. One promotes a high street Christmas collection, another the entire Shopper's World range and a third only offers a small selection for mail order.

By 1982, the Christmas catalog had grown to 40 pages in color A4 format and was delivered to major cities and could also be picked up in stores. The schedule is loud and cheap. It lists the best-selling budget products, but usually sells around a hundred products priced at £50 or more. Top sellers are Alan Sugar's TS33 Tower HiFi System (£159.95) and Ferguson 3790 Moviestar 14in (30cm) Color TV (£189.95).

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A few days after the 1982 catalog went to press, Woolworth UK announcedmanagement support. Then came a big shock.

Old stock and merchandise were cleared out, and many of the largest private stores were sold. The 1983 catalog was the biggest and loudest ever. It promises "an even more spectacular Christmas" with an evil cartoon clown on the cover and is packed with eclectic combinations to suit everyone's taste and budget.

In its tenth year, the electric organ made a strong debut, competing for attention with faux mink coats ($24.95) and men's Burlington shirts ($5.99). Computers offer a touch of the exotic in the form of the Commodore Vic 20 Starter Set ($139.99) and Sir Clive Sinclair's popular ZX Spectrum ($99.95).

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By 1985, the brand had taken a new direction. Many old sights have been scrapped. Adult fashion, food, stereos, televisions and computers are no longer in stock. Instead, the stores are concentrated in six main areas: gifts and confectionery, entertainment, clothing, home and garden, cards and accessories, and children's toys and clothing. These changes are reflected in the new catalog style with a chic look. The layout includes more white space and a neater design. Showcasing the chain's new exclusive licenseladybug costume. The iconic ladybug cape is featured on the cover and folds out into an elegant two-page spread. The new formula balances a premium market range with a strong value message. Stores are the first to launch products, and price competitiveness is strengthenedbudget videoAlready from €4.99. The slogan of the line is "Make a video for the price of a blank tape".

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One of the most successful collections under the new look was entertainment, as stores became market leaders in charts and video. Thanks to clever marketing, they sold a third of their compilation albums and sold more singles than anyone else. company sponsorsA popular song, which was given away in the store, and later also self-producedspoormagazine.

In the early 1990s, one in four euros spent at UK store tills came from the entertainment industry. Video alone generates sales of over £200 million a year, giving the series a special 24-page catalog funded by major labels.

By 1991, a steady pattern had emerged with seasonal product lines, vendor promotions, and coupons. Early bird discounts encourage shoppers to shop early, taking the stress out of December. This innovation was widely imitated on the high street.

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After nearly a decade of strong sales and profits, in 1993 and 1994Performance began to decline. This led to a reorganization of the administration and a review of the agreement formula. This introspection led to steps to improve value in the store. Some prices have been reduced and the range adjusted to correct the perception that the chain has gone too high in the market. This thinking is carried over to every page of the catalog. The 1994 and 1995 versions are clearly different. First, the songwriter focuses on style and price seems too vulgar to mention. Popular private labels Chad Valley, Colourplay and Ladybird were barely mentioned. Instead, the pages are filled with more expensive brands like Hasbro, Crayola and Forever Friends. An article titled "How to Decorate Your Christmas Tree" added a touch of class but took up space traditionally used to increase sales.

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In the second year, the roles were reversed. New marketing efforts have increased the chain's price competitiveness. It shows the price range and highlights some items with reduced prices. The campaign also tapped into customers' strong emotional connection with the brand and introduced the catchy new tagline 'Woolies Winter Wonderland'.

In 1997, almost half of the products in the catalog were exclusive and private label products. The text contains strong pricing statements such as '£5 cheaper than last year' and 'Trees and lights - our promise to you'. New terms such as 'super value' are also striking. These measures brought profit in 1994/95. to £51.1 million. This rose to £84m in 1996/97. and peaked at £107.6 million in 1997/98.

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In 1998, Marylebone Road had a new postman. Kingfisher favored "alternative channels", calling them "additional channels" to get their "OpCos" on their side.

Woolworth embraces "complementarity" in a consistent way - looking back and looking forward. Mail order was "reintroduced" after being absent for 20 years. First launched in the West, customers are invited to order anything from the Christmas catalog and have it delivered to their doorstep. Sales crossed the £1 million mark in a few weeks, proving the demand. The following spring, a small national catalog promoting Easter offers was published, followed by similar publications Summer and Back to School.

The rapid increase in sales paved the way for an even bigger Christmas campaign. This 132-page heavyweight promises "Wonderland" to be "delivered to your door." It features many of the chain's biggest items, complemented by a large selection of large toys, bikes, hi-fi and televisions. Orders can be placed by email or phone. As the Direct team tries to gain a foothold, its bold and confident public image hides behind-the-scenes controversy. City analysts smelled trouble, wondering why the company hadn't adopted the Internet and why the store had two competing catalogs, one made to order and a similar one without that functionality.

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Kingfisher did not hide the hope that this "friendly competition" would increase sales. They are trying to invest additionally in the expansion of the product range. Under his leadership, Woolworths sought a specialist outsourcing partner and selected leading cataloger Freemans plc. He helped set up a new fulfillment center in Braunstone, Leicester, provided marketing expertise to improve the catalog and gave the procurement team access to analytics, delivery and marketing systems. The following year, two catalogs were distributed in stores.

As the millennium ticks down, the launch of Woolworths.co.uk has been overshadowed by useful lessons from the challenges facing traditional mail order businesses. Orders far exceeded expectations, leading to inventory shortages and a backlog of check orders that could not be fulfilled. The company was condemned live on TV by BBC influencerswatchdogplan, which requires urgent corrective measures.

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In 2000, we made changes to our products and services. Combined retail and direct sales catalogs to save costs and avoid customer confusion. A small catalog of announcements will be sent to subscribers, inviting them to purchase the full version in store or online.

Payment processing has been improved. After much deliberation, the focus group convinced executives to continue accepting check payments. They were relieved when initial sales data for the new catalog showed that more than 60% of those who were disappointed with the previous year accepted a discount on their next purchase; a third bought online, and the rest bought again by check.

The failure of the behind-the-scenes plan"Fusion of Value Champions"The relationship between parent company Kingfisher and supermarket chain Asda has led to a complete rethink. At last the Kingfisher withdrew from the high street. Superdrugs are sold privately. Other companies do itdivorcedEnter the new company made up of Woolworths, MVC, Entertainment UK, Streets On Line and VCI Group. The company was named "Woolworths Group plc". The shares were listed on the London Stock Exchange in early August 2001. Kingfisher's latest move was to plunge the company into debt and appoint controversial former rail boss Gerald Corbett. It was announced that they will consider internal and external candidates and appoint the president of the board in due course, but first they will do it "offhand".

One of the first steps of the new president will be the complete abolition of the multi-channel retail business. Corbett has yet to embrace the internet and sees no future for customers ordering goods delivered to their doorstep. The relationship with Freemans was severed, delivery and call centers were closed and 200 employees were made redundant. At first it would shut down completely, until executives pointed out that Streets on Line, a leading web publisher, was one of its operating companies and that they only published web pages. During the height of the Internet boom, the Kingfisher Group spent huge sums of money buying the "best" companies. Corbett reluctantly agreed for Streets to develop a pure entertainment product for Woolworths, while supplying additional products to its sister company MVC (the specialist retailer formerly known as Music and Video Club). The annual accounts at the end of Corbett's first financial year at the helm included a staggering £10m write-off of all the investment the operating company had made in new channels during the Kingfisher era.

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Corbett's corporate sabotage prompted major changes to the 2001 Christmas catalog, which reverted to the mid-1990s style of sales aids. After receiving feedback, the president made a small concession, authorizing the creation of a helpline to help shoppers find items that are hard to find in nearby stores.

City analysts were overwhelmed by this and challenged the "all you want and all you need" platitude.magical ChristmasWith Woolworth'. When Corbett heard the criticism, he was said to have said, "Well, that's it."I have to”!

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2002 marks the appointment of Trevor Bish-Jones as the new CEOa new strategy, which he called "kids and fun", was aimed at a new audience called Debbie.

The catalog has been redesigned in the format of a compact case. The content is more ambitious and reflects the deep pockets of Debbie and her family. Although she is said to be careful with money, her children do not ask for anything, especially at Christmas. On these pages, you'll find designer party-appropriate children's clothing, luxury toys and stylish accessories for Debbie's home and kitchen.

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A shopper blindly testing a catalog might think it came from Selfridges or John Lewis. It has an affordable price and a well-thought-out design that is far from traditional budget options and beyond the budget of some customers.

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Bish-Jones, a relative newcomer, doesn't seem to realize that his second big, new idea is neither big nor new. big name'elastic walllittle more than a repackaging of the 1998 Kingfisher strategy that Corbett has since discarded and written off. The plan would allow customers in smaller stores to shop at touch-screen kiosks or in-store checkouts, online, or shop the entire range. products of the largest branch from the catalog by telephone.

Somehow the CEO's language made "elastic wall" more appealing to self-proclaimed retail gurus and investment analysts than Jeff Mulcahy's "additional channels" during the dot-com bubble. To achieve that vision, Bish-Jones will have to do a lot as he rebuilds what the president left behind.

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The new catalog received significant attention, and the in-store ordering system won the prestigious award for the world's best customer solution in Chicago in 2006. Turnover gradually grew to £80 million a year. But the success is only superficial. Orders delivered direct from suppliers, including music and video orders from Entertainment UK, are usually profitable, but the company loses an average of £5 on other orders. Bish-Jones maintained this strategy until 2008. Shortly after the CEO was removed, the board of directors announced that the fall 2008 Big Red Book would be the last. Just days after the final catalog hit the shelves, the company went bankrupt. In October 2008, delivery was suspended and the chain stopped accepting online orders.

The Big Red Book and working in multi-channel retail is undoubtedly why Shop Direct decided to take the brand and bring it online. As one of the market leaders, the new owner has a proven track record in establishing a profitable online mail order business. Such success was achieved through difficult choices, such as dropping the Woolworths name, to focus their energies and skills on the world-class website very.co.uk. Today, customers have to travel to Germany, Mexico or the Caribbean to view the Woolworths catalog or visit www.woolworth.de to see the latest collections.

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