*Study: Catalog Sales Will Grow at Steady Pace

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Catalog sales are expected to increase at a slower but steady pace over the next five years, reaching $119 billion by the year 2003, according to a new DMA study.

The study, Economic Impact: U.S. Direct Marketing Today, released today at the 15th Annual Catalog Conference & Exhibition in Boston, reports that the growth rate for the entire catalog industry was 8 percent from 1993 to 1998, with business-to-business catalogs outpacing consumer catalogs by 1.1 percent.

Moving forward, the growth rate from 1998 to 2003 is expected to be 6.4 percent for the industry as a whole, with BTB catalogs outpacing consumer catalogs by 0.8 percent. Despite its slower growth rate, the consumer side of the industry remains far larger. Of the $87.1 billion in sales the catalog industry is expected to generate in 1998, consumer catalogs will produce $53.4 billion, while BTB catalogs are expected to generate $33.7 billion. Similarly, in 2003, consumer catalogs will generate $71.9 billion of the total $119 billion in projected sales for the industry, while BTB catalogs will produce $47 billion.

The industry's projected employment growth mimics the projected sales pattern. The industry currently employs 454,800 people, 277,800 on the consumer side and 177,000 on the BTB side. Job growth, which has been 5.6 percent since 1993 with BTB catalogs outpacing consumer catalogs in job creation by 0.8 percent, is expected to slow to 2.3 percent for the industry as a whole. BTB catalogs will outpace consumer catalogs by 0.4 percent. In 2003, the industry is expected to employ 508,400 people, with 308,000 working for consumer catalogs, and 200,300 working for BTB publications.

Likewise, advertising expenditures are expected to continue to grow at a more moderate pace. In 1998, the industry will spend $10.9 billion on advertising with $7.1 billion in spending on the part of consumer catalogers and $3.8 billion in spending on the part of BTB catalogers. Those figures represent a 7.1 percent overall growth in spending by the industry since 1993, with BTB catalog advertising spending outpacing consumer catalog spending by 1.3 percent.

Over the next five years, the growth in advertising spending is expected to slow to 4.6 percent, with BTB advertising spending growing at a 0.8 percent faster rate than consumer catalog advertising spending. In total, the industry is projected to spend $13.7 billion on advertising in 2003, with $8.8 billion coming from consumer catalogs and $4.9 billion from BTB catalogs.

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