By  on June 9, 1994

NEW YORK -- Experts from designer Bill Blass to communications giant AT&T to the marketing gurus at Management Horizons predict home shopping will expand and solidify its share of the $2 trillion retail marketplace in record time.

Their comments came at a symposium on televised and PC-based interactive home shopping called "Retailing 200: Mall or Monitor." The program, sponsored by the New York chapter of the International Furnishings & Design Association, was held at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel here last month.

Dan Sweeny, vice-chairman of retail services at Management Horizons, said stagnant sales and saturated markets are forcing conventional retailers to look for unconventional ways to expand their businesses.

"The most powerful force propelling the electronic shopping industry is the relentless search for incremental sales by the conventional retail industry," Sweeny said.

The current evolution of home shopping supports that argument, as retailers like Macy's and Saks Fifth Avenue and successful catalog-based merchants like Eddie Bauer and Spiegel's are or shortly plan to begin hawking their wares over the TV.

Sweeny said the proliferation of cable channels and the promise of interactive technology will help home shopping grow.

"Growth will come at the expense of catalogs and specialty retailers," he said.

QVC and the Home Shopping Network are both billion dollar companies already, according to Sweeny. The home shopping industry as a whole, infomercials included, saw sales of $4 billion in 1992, according to the most recent figures compiled by Management Horizons. Sweeney expects the industry to grow by an additional $8 billion by 1996 and reach $60 billion by the year 2000. That figure will nearly double to $112 billion by 2004 and will swell to "some $400 billion" by 2010, when it will account for 15 percent of non-auto retail sales, he added.

Interactive shopping, which will allow consumers to place an order through their TV remote control or PC will fuel the growth, according to Sweeny. "The infamous Generation X has been honing its skills on video games and is fully ready to handle interactive shopping," he said.

Bill Doddridge, vice-president of global information services at AT&T, said the two-income family will also spur home shopping. AT&T has invested heavily in the infrastructure for interactive home shopping .

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