The holiday shopping season unofficially kicks off Thursday and advertising circulars inserted in newspapers like the Southeast Missourian will serve as a guide for shoppers seeking that blockbuster deal.
Wednesday evening 36 people will work alongside the regular crew of 12 for nearly three hours at the Southeast Missourian's production facility in Cape Girardeau, placing 409,426 circulars in newspapers delivered the following day to Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois communities. Workers will repeat the process Saturday evening, putting 421,992 circulars in Sunday's edition. As the size of each circular can range up to 88 pages, more than 10 million pages of information will be shared with shoppers through the Southeast Missourian.
Andy Beaman, mailroom manager for the newspaper, said crews will assemble packages of up to 29 advertising inserts circulars. The number of individual circulars a particular reader will receive depends on the neighborhood he lives in, as some advertisers target their distribution.
Until they are assembled into delivery packages, circulars are placed inside one section of the facility on pallets that reach as high as 12 feet. Once the circulars are inserted in the Southeast Missourian, the newspapers will make their way to homes, businesses and newsstands beginning at 1 a.m.
"It's important that the papers be delivered on time because the inserts are very important to shoppers," Beaman said. "They rely on them when planning their schedule on where to shop."
While the inserts provide a valuable service to readers, the significant savings that stores offer are not intended for release prior to publication.
To prevent such deals from leaking to the public, newspaper and printing production employees are not allowed to release any information about advertisements in advance of publication. Signs throughout the Southeast Missourian printing facility remind employees they could be terminated by doing so.
"Confidentiality is so important to our clients, that several actually have us sign sworn affidavits agreeing to very strict guidelines regarding the handling of their inserts," said Southeast Missourian advertising director Donna Denson. "We understand that and take appropriate precautions, not just during Thanksgiving but all year round."
As shoppers look toward Black Friday, some consumers may be considering purchasing gifts at national sites on the Internet. However, Southeast Missourian publisher Jon K. Rust said that the online shopping is dwarfed by those shopping at local brick-and-mortar stores, which is why major retailers make advertising in local media like the newspaper and its website a top priority.
"It's funny how some people think that holiday shopping is about the Internet," Rust said. "But for the best prices and the most convenience -- including easy returns -- nothing beats shopping locally.
"Buying locally also supports local merchants and their employees, who are your neighbors," Rust said. "And it benefits the local tax base, which is good for the local economy and government services."
Inserts to look for
These are just some of the businesses using inserts in Thursday's Southeast Missourian:
Toys "R" Us