Catalogues stay ahead of electronic shopping

HOME SHOPPING sales in the UK are set to rise by nearly a quarter to pounds 12.6bn over the next four years, with the bulk of growth coming from traditional mail order catalogue companies rather than electronic shopping.

A report entitled "Home Shopping in the UK" published today by Corporate Intelligence on Retailing says: "Electronic shopping will still only account for 0.35 per cent of retail sales by 2002, a stark contrast to some of the more bullish forecasts produced by other organisations, often consultancies or IT companies with their own agenda to push."

This means electronic sales will rise from pounds 200m this year to pounds 720m in 2002.

The report argues that "it will be direct mail order which provides much of the momentum for growth in the short to medium term".

"Belatedly following the lead of Next Directory, high street retailers such as Marks & Spencer and the Arcadia Group are looking to encourage more upmarket and fashion-conscious consumers to shop from the home."

The report adds that the more traditional agency houses are also bringing out new marketing titles.

For instance GUS has introduced Disney World and Sports Elite, Grattan has launched Eddie Bauer, Empire has brought out La Redoute and Freemans has issued The Book.

The report estimates that total home shopping sales will increase 6.8 per cent this year and a further 23.5 per cent over four years. By 2002 the sector will account for 6.3 per cent of all retail sales, compared to 5.9 per cent in 1997.