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A new study from Retail Forward, the global management consulting and market research firm, says that brick-and-mortar stores will be the primary growth channel for most softgoods catalog retailers in the future.

Softgoods catalog retailing is under stress from rising costs, modest sales prospects, and a shift in sales toward online sites, according to Retail Forward. “These pressures are driving fundamental and needed change,” said Lois Huff, Vice President of Retail Forward and author of the report, Softgoods Catalog Retailing. “Change in the role that catalogs play in the total offer; change in the number of channels through which softgoods catalog retailers sell and market; and, change in terms of who will be launching catalogs over the next several years, and why they will do so,” she said.

Retail Forward forecasts the direct selling channel (online and catalogs) to account for just 4.7 percent of total non-auto retail sales by 2006, up only slightly from a 4 percent share last year. This statistic confirms that for most existing softgoods catalog retailers, stores will be the primary channel for future sales transaction growth, brand-building, and overall long-term growth.

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