The Rise and Fall of the Argos Catalogue
It’s that festive time of year again and I can’t help thinking back to how Christmas shopping has changed. I miss high streets being busy hives of activity with Christmas shoppers and I don’t think online shopping can ever replace the experience of doing real Christmas shopping. After all, the smells, the sounds and the sights are all part of the experience.
I am prone to lamenting the loss of the high street, but what about the fall of catalogues and mail order shopping? The internet has killed off many catalogue and mail order companies and this brings me to Argos which was always a hybrid – having catalogues and stores, albeit stores that you needed to order from the catalogue to make a purchase. I recall sitting as a child in the 1980’s flicking through the pages of an Argos catalogue and writing out my Christmas wish list. Argos was a store that seemingly sold a bit of everything and whilst the store is continuing this year the retailer announced that it has stopped printing its catalogue after nearly 50 years of publication.
Unlike other chain stores such as Comet, HMV, Jessops, Habitat and TJ Hughes, Argos has battled on and remained a high street name but whilst Argos is to continue to live on, it will do so without its trusty catalogue. The catalogue was the backbone of Argos, it was what it was founded on and what stood it apart from its competition, but as online shopping has taken an increasing hold, the catalogue has become a bit of a dinosaur and must now be retired.
Argos printed a billion copies of the bi-annual catalogue since its launch in 1973, and at its height it was Europe’s most widely printed publication, with only the Bible being more prevalent in British homes.
I have some vintage copies of the Argos catalogue and they provide a fascinating snapshot of the changing tastes and trends throughout the decades. It’s hard to imagine that the company that was founded as a catalogue shop will no longer produce a catalogue and that the Argos catalogue has been sentenced to the same fate as the Green Shield Stamp Catalogues that it replaced.
Rest in peace Argos catalogue, in my eyes an internet store will never be an adequate replacement for you.