JCPenney's New Mailer: Don't Call It a Catalog

JCPenney's "Big Book" catalogs used to span 1,000 pages.

BySusanna Kim
January 20, 2015, 12:38 PM

— -- In a blast from the past, sort of, JCPenney is bringing back old-school mailings to draw customers to its website and brick-and-mortar stores.

JCPenney is adamant that the 120-page mailer isn't a catalog like the "big book" mailings of old, but a more streamlined marketing tool, a company spokeswoman told ABC News.

The traditional "big book" catalogs launched in 1963, with three each year sometimes spanning 1,000 pages, the company said. The last of those was the Fall/Winter 2009 issue, though JCPenney said it continued to issue slimmer specialty catalogs, usually around 50 pages, until 2012.

PHOTO: A dining room set is pictured in JCPenney's 1977 catalog.
A dining room set is pictured in JCPenney's 1977 catalog.
JCPenney

The new JCPenney mailer will focus on home and lifestyle products and not on fashion, which comprised a large portion of vintage JCPenney catalogs that still can be found online.

PHOTO: JCPenney's 1990 Christmas catalog is pictured.
JCPenney's 1990 Christmas catalog is pictured.
JCPenney

"We are simply issuing a more robust home mailer, which is something we used to do prior to 2012 before new leadership took over. Customers, particularly when it comes to home items, still like flipping through a traditional print piece," along the lines of those by Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel and West Elm, a JCPenney spokeswoman said.

The mailer is a "traffic-driving piece" with a goal for customers to next visit JCP.com, call customer service, or go to one of about 1,100 JCPenney stores.

PHOTO: JCPenney's 1990 Christmas catalog is pictured.
JCPenney's 1990 Christmas catalog is pictured.
JCPenney

JCPenney, based in Plano, Texas, is at the tail-end of a turnaround plan. In November, it reported dropping sales in its third quarter. But this month, the company reported its recent holiday sales had increased 3.7 percent compared to the previous year.

PHOTO: A newly opened JCPenney store is viewed at the Gateway Center Mall in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Aug. 29, 2014.
A newly opened JCPenney store is viewed at the Gateway Center Mall in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Aug. 29, 2014.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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