Endorse Postal Service; Detail Online Sales

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CHICAGO ( -- While direct marketers gathered in Chicago for the Direct

Up to 30% of Lands' End catalog sales orders are now placed online.
Marketing Association's 84th annual conference, the association's president-CEO and heads of major catalog companies met to discuss the impact of the recent anthrax scare on their businesses.

As has been his modus operandi since the anthrax crisis began, DMA President-CEO H. Robert Wientzen tried to allay member's fears.

Downplays danger
"So far, no commercial mail has been involved in sending anthrax through the mail. The likelilhood of having a broadscale distribution of anthrax through a large mail campaign seems very, very unlikely," he said.

Mr. Wientzen read a statement from Deputy Postmaster General John Nolan that said the Postal Service's two primary goals are to maintain the safety of the public and their employees as well as

See the Online Catalogs:

Lands' End Online Catalog

Fingerhut Online Catalog

J.Jill Online Catalog

Newport News Online Catalog

to keep the mail moving. The postmaster general, John E. Potter, was invited to the conference but could not attend,

Catalog companies
Heads of catalog companies Fingerhut Cos., J. Jill Group, Newport News and Lands' End emphasized their support for Postal Service and echoed its desire to continue mail delivery.

"We are going to work with [the Postal Service.] We believe commercial mail is safe. It's a safe way to shop, and we're looking forward to a good Christmas," said Michael Sherman, president of Fingerhut, which is the Postal Service's ninth-largest customer and its leading catalog customer.

Jeff Jones, chief operating officer of Lands' End, was also positive about the holiday season.

'Busy as Santa'
"The good news is that all is well in Dodgeville, Wisc. [the catalog retailer's headquarters]," he said. "We'e very close to the North Pole, and we're about as busy as Santa right now. We expect to have growth above where we were a year ago."

All the catalog companies said they were confident in their security procedures and those of their printers. They have also increased the presence of their logos on all envelopes and packages sent to consumers.

"People are responding to mail from companies they know," said George Ittner, president-CEO of Newport News. "We have seen no reaction whatsoever in terms of people's response to catalogs that we could attribute in any way to anthrax."

30% of orders made online
Although none of the catalogers plan to abandon paper versions of their books in favor of the Internet, 25% to 30% of Lands' End orders are made online. Mr. Jones said most of those ordering online have a catalg beside them at their computer.

"The reality is there is no substitute for ink on paper today," Mr. Wientzen said. "For the foreseeble future, this industry needs the Postal Service ... this country needs the Postal Service. The big fear that we now have is that this crsis will add a financial burden [to an already-struggling Postal Service] that they are unable to carry."

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