As reported in the October issue of Print Professional, total annual sales figures for the top 100 manufacturers took a small leap from those listed in 2008. Would the industry's leading distributors see the same fate? Not quite.
Total annual sales figures for the top 100 distributors took a slight dip from last year's finish of $3.5 billion. However, this year's participants still put forth an admirable showing of $3.4 billion total combined sales. And as a reminder, $3.4 billion is still an improvement from 2007 figures of $3.2 billion. So while everyone may have had high hopes of conquering adversity, in the form of a daunting economy, it doesn't seem too unlikely that a steadily increasing course will resume next year.
Individual product sectors, on the other hand, saw a decline practically across the board. It is important to note, a significant amount of distributors opted not to release sales figures for these product sectors, which, of course, skews results.
Business forms still dominated as a whole with $558.5 million in sales (2008: $652 million), proving they aren't leaving the scene any time soon. Labels and tags sales averaged at $185.9 million (2008: $241 million); commercial print sales resulted in $368.2 million (2008: $378 million); digital print sales fell to $185.9 million (2008: $201 million); direct mail sales came in at $152.5 million (2008: $177 million); plastic products/cards comprised $15.1 million of sales (2008: $25 million); RFID sales—which did not include barcodes this year—were $114.8 million (2008: $126 million); and finally, the "other" category landed in at $250.2 million (2008: $329 million).
Common responses for the "other" category included office supplies (filing products, in particular), barcode equipment, pressure-seal equipment, design services, fulfillment, paper, packaging, bank supplies and statement processing.
Other product categories took a more noticeable hit. For instance, envelopes/folders/stationery sales dropped to $183.5 million (2008: $312 million) and e-commerce sales fell to $119.8 million (2008: $507 million). A reason for the latter category's hit is puzzling, considering e-commerce is the anticipated wave of the future. However, there is an explanation for the former category. As indicated in the "other" category, filing products were a popular entry in this sector. But, some may argue these items belong with folders. The motivation to mark one product under a specific category remains at the distributor's discretion.