Promotional Products Sales off 10.9% in Third Quarter

ASI research shows optimism rising as decline slows

TREVOSE, PA – October 22, 2009  Advertising Specialty Institute®, the largest media and marketing organization serving the advertising specialty industry, announced today that promotional products sales in the third quarter of 2009 were off 10.9% versus third quarter 2008. 

The exclusive ASI third quarter sales survey showed that the year-over-year sales decline among distributors represented a decrease of about $551 million in ad specialty sales compared to the same quarter last year, but also indicated that the 10.9% decline is less than the 13.9% decline in the second quarter and the 18.0% decline in the first quarter.  This is the fifth consecutive quarter that industry revenue has declined; the decline began in the third quarter of 2008, when sales dipped by 1.6%.

Nearly 30% of respondents reported an increase in sales, up 11 percentage points from 19% in the second quarter.  Larger distributors ($1 million or greater in revenue annually) showed the smallest decline in sales, off 8.1% versus 12.8% in the second quarter. 

“This exclusive study indicates that perhaps the economic climate is improving for the advertising specialty industry,” said Timothy M. Andrews, president and chief executive officer of ASI.  “Almost every distributor and supplier I’ve had conversations with over the last two months has told me that their sales are up this year versus last year.”   

About two-thirds, or 65%, of distributor firms are anticipating an average increase in sales of 13.5% for all of 2010 versus all of 2009.  Among those expecting lower sales, the average decrease is 16.5%.

Total 2009 sales will be reported in the first quarter of next year.  For 2008, overall promotional products sales were $19.8 billion, up 1.2 percent over 2007.

The ASI third quarter sales study is an additional resource among a comprehensive set of educational and statistical research from ASI, including the annual State of the Industry™ report, the Advertising Specialties Impressions Study and the ASI Social Networking Study. 

To view the full ASI quarterly sales report, click here.  For more information, contact Larry Basinait, executive director of research services, at [email protected].   

About ASI
Advertising Specialty Institute is the largest media and marketing organization serving the advertising specialty industry, with a membership of over 26,000 distributor firms (sellers) and supplier firms (manufacturers) of advertising specialties.  Supplier firms use ASI print and electronic resources to market products to over 22,000 ASI distributor firms.  Distributor firms use ASI print and electronic resources, which contain nearly every product in the industry from more than 3,500 reputable suppliers, to locate supplier firms and to market services to buyers.  ASI provides catalogs, information directories, newsletters, magazines, websites and databases, and offers e-commerce, marketing and selling tools.  Visit ASI online at and on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, the CEO’s blog and the ASI Social Network.

Methodology:  On October 13, 2009, ASI commissioned a survey to estimate the direction of industry sales for the third quarter, as well as the outlook for next year.  Invitations went to 10,560 ASI distributor members who were the primary contact with their firms, and had been in business at least one year.  A total of 438 distributor firms responded to the survey, resulting in a 4.3% response rate.  A reminder to take the survey was sent on October 18.  An incentive of a drawing for $250 was offered.  Larger distributors were over-sampled, with results then weighted for a more accurate analysis.  Further, a high-level executive from ASI sent survey invitations to a list of select industry leaders, resulting in 57 of the completed surveys.