Earlier this year, PPAI launched its COVID-19 IMPACT quarterly surveys to track the state of the promotional products industry and serve as a tool for companies to compare how they are doing against other companies in the industry. The Association has released these results from its third-quarter 2020 study.

Among distributors, the survey found that 80.6 percent said their order count decreased in third quarter 2020 compared to third quarter 2019, and 25.9 percent said they became less confident during the quarter about their business’s future viability. And while 45.7 percent saw a decrease in sales between the second and third quarter 2020, in a sign of optimism, almost two-thirds (61.2 percent) expect sales levels to either stay the same or increase during fourth quarter. Looking ahead to the final quarter of 2020, distributors expect the top buying industries to be health/medical, building and construction, and business services.

The survey also revealed that 60.2 percent of distributors made no staffing changes in third quarter 2020, and that decorated PPE grew to 80.4 percent of sales, up from 75.8 percent in the previous quarter. Another sign of how the pandemic is changing the way business is done, 73.5 percent of survey respondents are not meeting with customers or salespeople in person.

Largely in line with the experience reported by industry distributors, 82.9 percent of supplier respondents in the survey said their order count decreased in the third quarter compared to the same quarter in 2019, and an almost identical 25 percent said they grew less confident about their business’s future viability over the quarter. And although 39.3 percent saw a decrease in sales from second quarter 2020 to third quarter, 61.5 percent expect sales to either stay the same or increase during the fourth quarter. Suppliers’ business practices have also been similarly impacted by the pandemic, with 82.9 percent saying they are not meeting with distributors in person.

There are some differences between the two groups, however. In a reversal from the distributor experience, suppliers report third quarter decorated PPE sales down at 37.7 percent from 39.4 percent in the second quarter. And at 41.6 percent, suppliers were less likely than distributors to say they had made no staffing changes during third quarter 2020.

For more results from PPAI’s third quarter 2020 survey, click here.