Industry reaction to Argos catalogue cancellation

Published on: 15th May 2020

As the news broke late last week, members of the toy trade picked up the phone and took to LinkedIn to give Toy World their feedback.

Toy World revealed the demise of the Argos autumn winter catalogue just before last Friday’s bank holiday, sharing a letter sent to suppliers explaining the conclusion that Argos has reached: “We’ve had to take a decision now on whether we should issue paper copies of the catalogue to customers. After reviewing this in detail, we have taken the decision not to provide a take-home version of the summer (published) Argos catalogue this year. We are aware that the catalogue is an important and well-loved part of our Argos heritage, and this is not a decision we’ve taken lightly.”

Never afraid to share their considered opinion, many industry experts have been in touch to discuss the cancellation of the autumn/winter catalogue. A former Argos employee, who worked on the catalogue in the past, had mixed feelings about the move: “I think this is sad news. We’ve all grown up with the book! But the days of a big catalogue not targeted at the customers who value it most were numbered already before the lockdown. I can’t help but feel this has brought the change forward by 2-3 years. All the best to the Argos publications team – a great bunch of people.”

Another added: “It would have been phased out within three years, but this has forced it. Shopping habits have moved even more online since lockdown, so I don’t think there’s any great risk. Also, within three years the Argos name will be dead, it will just be Sainsbury online.”

Another long-standing member of the Argos team agreed that, although the catalogue has always been a main part of Argos’s business model, its days were numbered. He questioned whether this would be a permanent move straight away, however. “There have been many changes over recent years: stores moving to a digital format and the increase of customers shopping online was always going to bring an end to the catalogue. I always thought it would be 3-5 years away; the recent changes to shopping online have hastened this change, but I’m not sure it’s the end of the story and we might even see a return in January 2021.”

There was an overwhelming feeling that the catalogue would be missed on some level by many, after it has become such a mainstay in so many households. One person reminisced: “I remember as a child picking up mine on the way back home from school,” while another had more pressing concerns: “This is massive. Where will I rest my mug?”

Time will tell how Argos will adapt going forward, and how it will work with suppliers in order to offer different opportunities and promotional partnerships. A long-serving member of staff told us: “We need to remember the paper book is only a small part of Argos. I am super proud of how well the teams in stores, distribution and support centres have continued working to support each other and our customers. The business has changed, but take it from someone who has been part of it for years – Argos has always embraced change and looked to the future.”


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