Survey: 60% of Merchants Say Direct Holiday Sales Are Up

People are spending more of their holiday dollars this year through catalogs and the Internet, according to a survey conducted by the New York-based Direct Marketing Association. Combined catalog and Internet holiday sales rose 8.3% this year, compared with the same period in 2005, the survey says. The 8.3% increase follows last year’s increase of 7.5% over holiday 2004.

So far this season, online sales have increased 11.3% from the comparable period last year, and catalog sales have grown 2.2%. The DMA expects consumers and businesses to spend $144 billion on catalog purchases in 2006, up 7.5% from $134 billion last year. It also expects the Web to generate nearly $339 billion in sales of all products and services in 2006, up 23.3% from $275 billion in 2005.

What’s more, more than two-thirds of Americans – 68% — shop from home, via catalogs, the Internet, the phone, or the mail. Seventy-two percent of women shop from the home or the office, compared with 63% of men.

About 60% of the merchants surveyed said that their combined catalog and Internet sales are up from the same period last year. That figure is down slightly from 64.3% of respondents to last year’s survey. But fewer than 13% reported a decline in overall holiday catalog and Web sales, considerably fewer than the 23.8% of last year’s respondents who said the same. Nearly 75% of this year’s respondents reported higher Internet sales this holiday season than last year’s.