How you view the latest statistics from New York-based ParadyszMatera on list universe sizes depends on whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist.

The brokerage services firm estimates that as of Dec. 31, 2003, an estimated 166.8 million Americans had bought from consumer catalogs during the previous 12 months. Optimists will note that this is a 1.5% increase from Dec. 31, 2002. Pessimists, however, will recall that as of Sept. 30, 2003, the number of 12-month consumer buyers had seen a bigger increase — 4.1% — from the previous year (see “Lists & Prospecting,” February). They’ll also point out that between Dec. 31, 2001, and this past Dec. 31, the number of 12-month consumer buyers had increased by a scant 500,000 names.

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