The mail order industry has grown immensely in the '90s, and industry pundits predict that the pattern will continue. "In the business-to-business area, computer hardware leads the growth, with software and peripheral items following," says Sroge, whose company produces the industry newsletter "Non-Store Marketing Report." ($275 for an annual subscription. To order, call 847-866-1890.)
"In the consumer area, casual apparel is the main growth area," Sroge says. "With 1997 off to a strong start, we predict that it will be the biggest year ever in apparel sales by mail." Other hot sellers include office supplies and equipment, records, tapes, sporting goods and home-improvement and decorating items. "The growth comes not only from new business, but because people are altering their shopping habits," Sroge says.
Schulte agrees: "Dual-income families use their leisure time to look through catalogs," he says. "Catalogs offer a better selection, shoppers generally get more help from people on the phone than they get in a store and, since most catalogs specialize, the sales staff knows their product."