The UK direct mail industry continues to expand both in terms of volume and expenditure, according to the latest quarterly data from the Royal Mail's Direct Mail Information Service.

In the quarter to September 30, direct mail volume was up 5.4% year-on-year to 1.3 billion items.

Consumer direct mail volume rose 7.5% while business to business mail decreased slightly by 1.8%. This slippage continues the downward trend that has developed since January 2003. However the percentage by which B-2-B direct mail has decreased year on year has become significantly less with each quarter.

Total direct mail expenditure for this quarter was £557.3 million ($1,030.40m; €807.09m), an increase of 0.6% on the same period last year. Of this expenditure, postage accounted for 44% at £242.6m and production 56% at £314.7 million.

Financial services and home shopping remain the largest mailing sectors with volumes of 241m and 135m respectively. Year on year, financial services grew by 13.6%, whilst home shopping declined 6% on the same quarter in 2002 -- the only sector to experience a decrease in the quarter.

Sectors showing the largest growth since 2002 were the health and utilities sectors, the former rising by nearly 31% to 11.5m items, the latter up 26% to 54.2m.

Volume growth across all socio-demographic groups continues to rise. In this quarter mailings both to C1 and C2 segments increased by over 8%, although in the 16-34 age group, receipt declined this quarter by 7.2%. All other age categories saw an increase, the largest (+14.4%) in the 55-64 age group.

News source: Direct Mail Information Service