New York--Despite the prolonged economic downturn and the new anthrax threat, sales revenue attributed to U.S. direct and interactive marketing is expanding at a rapid clip, according to the Direct Marketing Association. Such sales are forecast to exceed $1.86 trillion this year, a 9% increase over last year, according to the DMA. B-to-b direct marketing is growing quickly, with sales projected to reach $858 billion this year, up 9% from last year. "We are pleased that, despite current economic conditions, our industry is continuing to exhibit strong indications of growth in all sectors," said H. Robert Wientzen, the DMA's president-CEO, in a statement. The DMA's findings run against conventional wisdom, which holds that the economic downturn and the anthrax threat are dealing a serious blow to the direct marketing industry. Financial troubles of key direct marketers, such as Acxiom Corp., which in June cut 400 jobs, and DoubleClick Inc., which last month reported a third-quarter net loss of $103.5 million, have fueled speculation that the industry is faltering. The DMA also reported strong direct marketing growth outside the U.S., with South America leading the way. Overall direct marketing sales in Brazil, which has strong financial services and mining sectors, are up 19.6% this year, and sales in Argentina are up 11.1%.
--Philip B. Clark