London - They were once a regular feature on many a housewife’s social calendar, the hosts selling the latest goodies direct to their nearest and dearest.

Now home-shopping parties are making a comeback – thanks to the difficult economic climate.

Though the format may be largely unchanged, the wares on offer are increasingly upmarket, with Tupperware and risque lingerie swapped for products such as Jamie Oliver’s cookware range.

Home ‘party’ sales have surged by 120 per cent in the past two years to an annual total of 400-million pounds, with the rise put down in part to friends seeking a cheaper alternative to going out for the evening. And, facing a tough job market, around 20,000 more have become ‘direct sellers’ in the past two years.

Almost 400,000 in total are now involved in the industry, while last year saw a 26 percent increase in men signing up, according to the Direct Sales Association.

Cosmetics company Avon, with global sales of £7?billion, remains the biggest direct seller.

Paul Southworth, DSA director general, said: ‘Whereas people might have gone out for dinner or drinks before the recession, direct-selling parties are a cheaper night in socialising with friends and family.’ - Daily Mail