NEW YORK — Abercrombie & Fitch said Tuesday that its infamous magalogue, which was unexpectedly yanked from stores just days before the start of the holiday shopping season, has been permanently discontinued.

The company had come under mounting threats in recent weeks of massive boycotts by religious and other conservative activist groups. “There are a lot of people who are very, very angry about what this wretched company has done,” Dr. James Dobson, the founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, said last week. “We’re not the only ones.”

In a statement, Abercrombie & Fitch said, “While it has enjoyed success with the Quarterly over the years, the company believes it is time for new thinking and looks forward to unveiling an innovative and exciting campaign in the spring.”

A company spokesman had previously insisted the Quarterly had been removed to make way for a new fragrance and would return, as scheduled, in January.

That proved not to be the case, and until Tuesday’s announcement, no one seemed to know what was going on with the Quarterly. A freelance writer for the National Review’s Web site, who was the person to discover it had been pulled from stores, said she had been unable to purchase one, even after repeated calls to the company, and had been told that, going forward, only subscribers would receive copies —i.e., it would no longer be sold at the checkout. Subsequent calls to several stores last week by WWD elicited conflicting answers about the Quarterly’s future.

Abercrombie’s decision to end the Quarterly means the company is suddenly bereft of the marketing tool that had come to define the brand. Photographed by Bruce Weber and art directed by Sam Shahid, its iconic photography had redefined the All-American look for teenagers, and the sex the images oozed with so much edge that A&F customers willingly paid for it — even if the content meant they had to be over 18 years of age to do so.

The Quarterly also became known for pushing the edge of the marketing envelope, progressing from shirtless, homoerotic hunks to copious nudity of both sexes to drunken nuns and elves. Last year, the Illinois state legislature even proposed a resolution condemning the company for its marketing tactics.Abercrombie spent $33.4 million on the magalog and other advertising last year, according to federal documents, with the bulk spent on the former. The company is currently having a hard time keeping its naturally fickle demographic interested — November comps fell 13 percent, with A&F stores down in the midteens and its Hollister brand’s comps falling in the mid-single-digit range. A&F blamed its “understated promotional posture in a heightened industry-wide emphasis on special Thanksgiving weekend promotions” for November’s struggles.

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