DIRECT MAIL VOLUMES topped three billion items in 1996 - an all-time record, according to the Royal Mail’s quasi-independent direct mail propaganda unit, the Direct Mail Information Service. The precise total, 3.17 billion pieces, reflects a year-on-year increase of 9.2%, while expenditure for the year rose around 24% to £1.4 billion [bolstered by the increase in postage rates in July 96]. Claims DMIS director Jo Howard-Brown: 'The increase in volume is certainly partly driven by the increased diversity of companies using direct mail.'