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Argos has announced it is to stop printing its physical catalogue as it shifts to invest in digital-only alternatives.

The retailer has produced more than one billion copies of its bi-annual catalogue during its 48-year run.

All Argos stores will shift to digital screens by January 2021, and no further take-home editions will be produced.

Analyst say the move is not a surprise, and the coronavirus outbreak is likely to have accelerated the firm’s plans.

The catalogue was first launched in 1972 and quickly became synonymous with the brand.

‘Changing tastes’

During its heyday, its pages featured the likes of Emma Bunton and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Mark Given, chief marketing officer at Sainsbury’s – which owns Argos, said the move was in response to a shift in customers’ shopping habits.

“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,” he said.

“Just as our customers’ tastes have changed over the years, so have their shopping habits. We’re seeing an increasing shift towards digital shopping, using our mobile app, website and in-store browsers.”

Customers shopping on smartphones and tablets now account for more than 70% of all Argos online sales.

The retailer said it would still produce a print version of its annual Christmas gift guide.

‘March of technology’

Steve Dresser, director at Grocery Insight, told the BBC that it had only been a matter of time before the retailer made the shift to digital-only.

“Everyone uses the internet for ordering nowadays, and e-commerce is experiencing a stratospheric rise again,” he explained.

“Post-Covid 19 there is even less of a call for a catalogue.

“The reality is the march of technology and progression doesn’t spare anything, not even the beloved Argos catalogue.”

Last year, Argos made all its back catalogues available to browse online, letting consumers reminisce over everything from the 1974 hostess trolley (then priced at £43) to the 1987 personal stereo (£19.95).

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