SAGE has released its global report for the promotional products industry for Q1. Below are the findings, including charts, supplied by the industry service provider and PPAI technology partner. Distributors have been active on the SAGE platform in 2022.In fact, January, February and March all resulted in substantially more total product searches by distributors than the same months in 2021. March’s 1.42 million searches even came very close to the pre-pandemic March of 2019, which had 1.43 million searches.

Combining distributor’s performance with the information SAGE provided about what they were searching for paints a picture that suggests that pandemic-related restrictions are no longer top of mind in this still-young year.

The top three categories of bags, shirts and pens were still the most searched categories of Q1 for 2022, which held those same spots in Q1 of 2021. The most glaring decrease in category searches from Q1 this year compared to last year has been in personal protective equipment. Masks and wipes both faced dramatic decreases this quarter than they did during the same time period in 2021, and that is factoring in the Omicron variant, which was still surging in the early weeks of 2022.

Exercise equipment also took a large plunge in searches from a year earlier, which can perhaps be attributed to many people still exercising from home during the first three months of 2021 before vaccinations were widely available.

In terms of product categories increases from Q1 of this year compared to Q1 of 2021, boxes/packaging was the largest increase. This might have been due to employee gift packages, which would be awarded to both employees who have returned to the office or to work-from-home employees as a way of validating workers during a time when they’re seeing their coworkers less.

A 54% increase in luggage is certainly a sign of how much things have changed in the past year. Tablecloths/liners and napkins also increased by more than 50%, which seems to point toward a pickup in in-person events.

In terms of what has changed from Q4 of 2021 to Q1 of 2022, distributors’ clients are gearing up for warmer weather. Sunscreen was top of the list with a 75% increase. Golf kits, visors, golf tees, and golf tools also saw a 60%increase from the end of 2021, and sunglasses saw a 55% increase.

Meanwhile, some of the largest decreases were to be expected with the holidays in the rear view. Ornaments faced a whopping 709 percent decrease. Calendars, scarves and blankets also took huge backseats as distributors prepared for temperatures to rise.

Drinkware made a good showing in terms of the most searched specific products of January, February and March of 2022 with Best Promotions USA LLC’s BEST Coolie coming in as the most searched product during that span.

March Activity:

Finally, another trend to pair with the large total number of searches for last March is the sizable uptick in order forms created by distributors in March 2021. The 88,000 order forms created in March is not only the most of this particular quarter but is more order forms than were created in any given month over the past year.

Anyone who has lived through the past few years, in the promotional products industry or not, knows not to pretend to know what is coming for the rest of this year. But the SAGE report shows a lot of activity in the first three months of 2022, which can be interpreted as a sense of optimism for things to come.

To read through all of the SAGE Quarter 1 report, click here.