Argos is to stop printing its catalogue after almost 50 years as the buying bible once found in three-quarters of British homes is claimed by the inexorable move to online shopping.
Over 1bn copies of the bi-annual catalogue have been printed since its launch in 1973, and at its height it was Europe’s most widely-printed publication, with only the bible in more homes across the UK.
But now Argos is to close regular printing of the title, with the retailer saying that online shopping offers “greater convenience” than flicking through its print catalogue.
Coronavirus has hammered the publishing industry and seen numerous titles closed, but the company said the pandemic was not responsible for the decision to cease printing.
The catalogue has had its celebrity moments over the years. The comedian Alan Carr chose it as the one book he would take when he appeared on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, and stars from Arnold Schwarzenegger and Tess Daly to Holly Willoughby and Emma Bunton have plugged products in its pages.
However, the popularity of the catalogue has been in decline in recent years as the internet increasingly gains sway over shoppers’ buying habits.
Over the last decade the number of printed copies of each editionhas dropped from about 10m to about 3m. The most recent one, printed in January before the coronavirus pandemic hit, ran to 3.9m.
“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,” said Mark Given, chief marketing officer at Sainsbury’s, which owns Argos.
“Just as our customers’ tastes have changed over the years, so have their shopping habits. We are 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.”
Argos said it would continue to produce its Christmas Gift Guide, which will still be available in all stores this year.