In 2016, U.S. promotional products sales reached a record $21.3 billion, continuing an upward trend that began in 2010, following 2009’s downturn. PPAI’s Annual Estimate of Distributor Sales reports growth of 2.39 percent in 2016, a slower pace than 2015’s 3.82-percent growth, and also a tightening of the gap between small and large distributors.

More than half (58 percent) of all distributor companies reported better profits for 2016 than the year before. However, 25 percent of companies reported lower profits for last year compared to 20 percent in 2015.

Smaller distributors, those with sales under $2.5 million, had a particularly strong year. They reported a 4.86-percent increase in sales volume over 2015. However, there is variation among small distributor subgroups: distributors with less than $250,000 in annual sales experienced the greatest decline in sales growth, while distributors in the $1 million to $2.5 million bracket saw the most growth.

After big wins in 2015, large distributors, those with sales over $2.5 million, experienced a more modest 0.41-percent increase in sales during 2016. Compared to 2015, fewer large distributors (69 percent in 2016 versus 79 percent in 2015) reported increased sales, while the decline among smaller firms was less steep (56 percent versus 58 percent in 2015).

PPAI has collected and released industry sales data since 1965 and maintains an extensive industry sales information library. Its annual distributor sales study reflects actual sales data reported by U.S. distributor companies and is considered the most definitive and comprehensive of its kind in the industry. Look for more highlights from the report, plus analysis, commentary and an anecdotal forecast on 2017 sales in PPB’s July issue available later this month.

All distributor member companies who submitted completed surveys were entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of five Apple watches, or a voucher valued at $350 toward a future purchase of promotional products. The winners are:

Apple Watch

1. Amy Thomas, Direct Tech Sales, Indianapolis, Indiana

2. Ed Duprey, Great Lakes Trophies, Garden City, Michigan

3. Jerry Steffen, Leroy Hanson Co. Inc., Sioux City, Iowa

4. Ryan Small, CAS, Blue Dog Merch, Nashville, Tennessee

5. Scott McCarville, Amplified Image Marketing, Omaha, Nebraska

$350 Voucher

6. Alison Aarts, Bimark, Inc., Danville, California

7. Bethany Pendergrass, Pendergrass Promos, Inc., Hazel Green, Alabama

8. Cindy Proctor, Busy Bee Embroidery, Hummelstown, Pennsylvania

9. RJ Andrews, RJ Andrews Promotional Products, Sedro Woolley, Washington

10. Terri Molnar, Avalon Image Group, Twinsburg, Ohio