Fingerhut CEO Optimistic About Holidays

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CHICAGO -- In a lively discussion yesterday at the Direct Marketing Association's fall show, Fingerhut Cos. president/CEO Michael Sherman said he expects a strong holiday season despite a drop in sales after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


"We had a rough year [before] Sept. 11, and then after Sept. 11, we saw a drop-off," Sherman said. "The telephones stopped ringing, and people were glued to their television sets."


Sherman said the drop-off was especially sharp among adults 65 and older. Business started to pick up, he said, but another decline occurred after the United States started bombing Afghanistan.


Still, "customers are coming back, and we feel optimistic about the holidays," he said. "There will be a Christmas again this year."


As for the anthrax scare, Sherman said that while there has been no incidence of commercial mail being tampered with, his company is working to ensure that its customers will be confident to open their mail.


"On our envelope mail, we have made our brand name larger so we can make sure that people see it," he said. "Also, when someone receives packages with us, we have a label on it that says, 'Your package from Fingerhut has arrived.' "


The company has taken other security precautions and is offering masks and gloves to employees who request them.


Sherman shared the stage with a panel that included Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo Inc., and Michael Kinsley, editor of Microsoft's online magazine, Slate, who moderated the session.


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