Study: Direct Sales Rise 80% in Decade

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Direct sales increased nearly 80 percent over the past 10 years, from $16.6 billion in 1994 to $29.7 billion in 2004, according to a social and economic impact study released yesterday by the Direct Selling Association.

The direct sales industry added $72 billion to the U.S. economy in 2004. This includes the direct, indirect and induced effects from the $27.8 billion in wages, commissions and bonuses earned by employees in the direct selling industry as well as the effect of sales to customers, production activities, capital investments and tax revenue.

The largest categories of product sales are personal care products, $9.1 billion; home/family care, $9.1 billion; and wellness products, $4.8 billion. The industry includes global companies like Avon, Tupperware and Herbalife.

The study is part of a global World Federation of Direct Selling Associations effort to collect country-specific economic data. Other highlights:

· 13.6 million independent sellers received some form of compensation from direct selling businesses, and 77,000 Americans were permanent employees of direct selling companies.

· 1,500 companies make up the direct selling industry in the United States.

· 80 percent of independent sellers are female. Most sellers are married, with three or more people in the household.

· Independent sellers generally are pleased with their experience in the industry. More than 89 percent claimed to be satisfied with their direct selling experience, and 36 percent rated their experience with direct selling as excellent.

· Direct sellers gave an estimated $90 million to charitable causes in 2003. Of the direct seller respondents, 89 percent said they contributed to human services and charities.

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