Live from ACC: Catalog Sales Growth Outpaces Employment Growth

San Francisco–If it’s any consolation, you’re not the only cataloger doing more with less. According to a newly released study from the Direct Marketing Association, catalog sales increased an average of 9.24% a year between 1998 and 2003–but industry employment increased only 3.71% a year.

In the study, “Economic Impact: U.S. Direct and Interactive Marketing Today,” the DMA estimates that last year’s U.S. catalog sales totaled $125.8 billion. It expects sales to increase 5.6% this year, to $132.8 billion. But it projects the number of workers in the catalog industry to dip, from 529,000 in 2002 to 528,000 in 2003.

Consumer catalog sales accounted for 61% of last year’s total, or $76.9 billion. The DMA expects that figure to rise by 5.6%, to $81.2 million this year. Business- to-business catalog sales, which tallied $48.9 billion in 2002, are projected to reach $51.6 billion in 2003.

Looking further ahead, the DMA is predicting a 5.88% average annual growth in catalog sales during the next five years, with U.S. catalog sales hitting $176.7 billion in 2008. But catalog employment will rise a scant 1.94%, to 581,000 workers in 2008.