Way back in the days before online shopping, people picked out presents the old-fashioned way – in a catalog. Sears published their first-holiday catalog in 1934 and it was epic. Known as the Wish Book, it was full of everything from toys to appliances and you could even buy a house from one and it would be delivered piece by piece to any address you chose. Kids had a tradition of circling pictures of the things they wanted and even wrote letters to Santa giving him the page number from the catalog of the presents they wanted.
In a sign of changing times, Sears stopped publishing their holiday catalog in 2011, and it’s not the most common way for people to shop today, but the nostalgic trend is still going. And while Sears was the Amazon of its era, Amazon is actually an unlikely successor in the catalog game. The world’s largest online retailer started sending out their own toy catalog in 2018 and they’re bringing it back again this year. You may have thought this kind of shopping was a thing of the past, but holiday catalogs are making a comeback.
It’s not about speed or convenience, but these old-fashioned paper pages are popular once again because people just really seem to like catalogs. Maybe it’s because they just want to unplug after a day of being online for work, fun, and everything in between. There’s just something appealing about the pictures and descriptions and we can somehow see ourselves as the people in the images, no virtual reality required. Boomers seem like the generation that would be most into catalogs, but it turns out, Millennials are drawn to them. Superstar catalogs of the past, like JCPenney, Spiegel, and of course, Sears, are no longer around, but there are plenty of other retailers sending them out for all your holiday shopping needs.