Everything changed in 2020. And everything may change again in 2021.
That’s the roller-coaster reality encapsulated in this year’s State of the Industry. The absolutes we see each year in our annual report were upended along with the whole promotional products industry. Education no longer the top market. Apparel no longer the top product category. Overall Top 40 sales declining. Yet despite the business world being thrown into chaos, distributors and suppliers adapted to the “new normal” in a variety of ways, and many of them even managed to financially come out ahead.
And now? As the year goes on, 2021 is proving itself to be increasingly different than the 12 months prior. COVID cases are dwindling, events are returning, masks are being put away and optimism is climbing higher and higher.
By all appearances, 2020 won’t be an end point, but rather the juncture at which the world rocketed off on its future path. So while some of the changes from the past year will be permanent, others will be temporary – the result of a single moment in time.
The question is, which are which? That’s what we tackle here in our annual SOI coverage. Our aim is not to just present the data, but to give it context and weight in light of the future trends that will matter to the promo industry. Distributors and suppliers are taking the first real steps in a post-pandemic world. These reports will enable you to take them with confidence. – C.J. Mittica