Argos lays catalogue to rest, Xmas guide to continue

Jo Francis
Thursday, July 30, 2020

Argos is bidding a “fond farewell” to its iconic catalogue after nearly 50 years of producing the so-called ‘Book of Dreams’.

Argos catalogues: more than 1bn have been printed since the 1970s
Argos catalogues: more than 1bn have been printed since the 1970s

Over recent years the retailer has made a number of changes to the in-store experience involving customers ordering from tablets rather than the traditional laminated pages of its ‘big book’.

The catalogue itself, published bi-annually, had also reduced in format as Argos shifted to a more digital customer experience.

In a statement Argos said: "Over the past 47 years there have been 93 editions of the much-loved catalogue, over one billion copies printed and countless customers who have cherished memories of it.”

Broadcaster and TV presenter Alan Carr even chose it as his book when he appeared on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.

However, it’s not all bad news for print as the Christmas Gift Guide will continue.

“Argos will still be producing the iconic Christmas Gift Guide, giving customers present inspiration for special Christmas moments as families get together to circle products they would love to find under the tree. We know that for many of our customers this annual tradition is as much a part of the celebrations as their Christmas dinner!” the firm said.

Argos has also used leaflets in-store to highlight certain product categories and seasonal offers, and Printweek understands this type of promotion is likely to continue.

Printing is currently handled by Prinovis in Liverpool and Burda in Germany. Binding is at Walstead’s Leicester facility.

The future of the catalogue has been in question for years. Five years ago Home Retail Group’s then-CEO John Walden said he had been surprised at how attached customers were to the printed catalogue when the retailer began a push to switch store browsing over to iPads.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic is understood to have accelerated some of the group's decision making as stores were closed and customers turned to online ordering. 

Argos is now owned by Sainsbury’s, which acquired Home Retail Group in 2016.

Sainsbury’s chief marketing officer Mark Given said: “Over the decades the Argos catalogue has charted the nation’s changing tastes and trends in everything from must-have toys to the latest gadgets and devices. Today, popular products include wireless earphones, gaming consoles and lots and lots of LEGO. In 1973, when the catalogue launched it was point-and-shoot cameras and spacehoppers.

“Just as our customers’ tastes have changed over the years, so have their shopping habits. We’re seeing an increasing shift towards digital shopping, using our mobile app, website and in-store browsers. Closing the book on the catalogue will help us focus on delivering exciting and inspiring digital shopping experiences to meet the changing needs of our customers, both in-store and online.”

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