Wientzen Highlights Resiliency of Catalog Industry

SAN FRANCISCO — Using a comparison with a Timex watch that “takes a licking and keeps on ticking,” Direct Marketing Association president/CEO H. Robert Wientzen emphasized the resiliency of the catalog industry yesterday while addressing The Annual Catalog Conference at the Moscone Center here.

His industry review contained numerous statistics, including the projection that advertising expenditures related to catalogs will exceed $15.3 billion this year, up 3.4 percent from last year. In the next five years it is projected to compound annually at a rate of 4.75 percent.

“Not bad,” he said. “However, ad spending is slowing. It's dropped nearly 25 percent compared to the 6.2 percent compound annual growth over the past five years.”

Sales are estimated to reach $176 billion in five years. This would represent a compound annual growth rate of about 6 percent.

“Again, that's not bad,” he said. “While this outpaces the 4.8 percent growth for retail sales over this same five-year period, catalog sales growth is slowing due to the national economic downturn.”

He then provided information from the “Customer Audit of Catalog Performance & Services” survey, which tracked the catalog and online shopping experiences of 3,400 consumers during the 2002 holiday shopping season. It noted that the average purchase was $148, up from $135 in the 2001 holiday season.

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