Despite the rocky road many electrical distributors traveled this last year, those participating in Electrical Wholesaling's annual market-planning survey forecast slow-but-steady sales growth for 2003. Nationally, electrical distributors are looking for a 5.8 percent sales increase in 2003, putting total sales through this channel at $76.35 billion.

The most optimistic distributors are in the South Atlantic and Pacific regions. The South Atlantic region's electrical distributors forecast a 7.8 percent increase in sales to $12.32 billion. In the Pacific region electrical distributors are forecasting $15.25 billion in sales, a 7.2 percent increase.

When electrical distributors were surveyed in August 2001 for their 2002 sales forecast, which appeared in last year's Market Planning Guide, they were a bit too bullish compared to the survey responses that came in two months ago for the 2003 forecast. When surveyed last year, electrical distributors had expected 2002 to be a much better business year. Now electrical distributors' sales for 2002 are expected to total $72.16 billion.

Respondents to the survey reported an average sales-per-employee number of $326,400 for 2001. That number was a long way off from $523,765, which is the average 2001 sales-per-employee number reported by 189 distributors who furnished both a sales figure and employee count to our 250 Biggest survey last spring. Still, the much larger dollar figure among the 250 Biggest electrical distributors can perhaps be explained in part by the many electrical distributors that have reduced personnel. The employee count among the 250 Biggest was down more 6,500 people from 2000 to 2001.

ELECTRICAL WHOLESALERS' SALES
(in millions of dollars)
EW Estimates
Final 1998 Final 1999 Final 2000 Final 2001 Forecast 2002 Forecast 2003
New England 4,158.2 4,348.9 4,575.8 4,250.1 4,023.6 4,189.5
Middle Atlantic 10,112.3 10,683.3 11,049.8 10,571.3 10,463.2 11,145.8
East North Central 11,891.6 12,613.3 12,720.1 12,080.6 11,944.9 12,485.3
West North Central 3,480.0 3,819.3 3,768.2 3,657.6 3,719.1 3,887.3
South Atlantic 10,676.0 11,455.5 11,689.1 11,450.6 11,425.2 12,319.2
East South Central 3,376.2 3,691.4 3,730.0 3,386.6 3,487.6 3,641.9
West South Central 7,495.2 8,321.0 8,474.2 8,588.1 8,680.9 9,056.2
Mountain 3,420.7 3,632.6 3,869.1 4,260.0 4,199.4 4,376.8
Pacific 11,233.6 12,733.2 14,131.5 14,208.8 14,220.1 15,247.4
Nation 65,843.8 71,298.5 74,007.9 72,453.7 72,163.9 76,349.4
DISTRIBUTORS' FORECASTS FOR MAJOR BUSINESS SECTORS FOR 2003
(average percent change over 2002)
Residential Industrial Commercial Institutional Government Utilities
New England 4.3% -9.1% -4.4% -0.5% -4.0% 0.0%
Middle Atlantic -0.1% -2.4% -0.6% 0.3% 1.8% -0.6%
East North Central 0.3% -2.3% -0.9% -0.1% -0.2% -2.6%
West North Central 6.2% -4.9% 3.5% -0.5% 0.0% 0.0%
South Atlantic 7.6% -2.8% 1.7% -1.0% 0.1% 2.0%
East South Central 1.1% -6.0% -1.9% -0.9% 5.0% -1.7%
West South Central 1.1% -1.7% 1.9% 0.0% 0.0% -1.6%
Mountain 1.0% 1.8% -2.5% 0.7% 2.0% -2.0%
Pacific 1.9% -4.3% -1.6% 1.6% 0.3% 0.5%
Multi-Region Companies 0.3% 1.5% -1.5% 1.5% 1.5% 2.6%
National 2.3% -2.5% -0.6% 0.2% 0.7% -0.1%
EMPLOYMENT STATISTICS
in thousands
Actual EC M F/S/RT G
New England 40,500 937.7 4,201.2 982.2
Middle Atlantic 110,497 2,086.5 10,690.2 2,843.0
East North Central 132,047 4,012.4 11,547.0 3,127.1
West North Central 57,695 1,405.0 5,217.1 1,650.2
South Atlantic 171,098 2,677.3 14,005.6 4,028.3
East South Central 43,153 1,304.5 3,766.0 1,296.1
West South Central 99,459 1,590.5 7,378.6 2,462.4
Mountain 65,688 694.6 4,846.9 1,501.6
Pacific 123,355 2,397.2 10,824.2 3,494.6
Nation 843,491 17,105.7 72,476.8 21,385.5

KEY/LEGEND

NA — Not available
MSA — Metropolitan Statistical Area
PMSA — Primary Metropolitan Statistical Area
CMSA — Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Area
EC — Electrical contractor employees. Actual numbers.
M — Manufacturing employees in thousands.
F/S/RT — Commercial accounts (finance, services, retail trade) employees in thousands.
G — Government employees in thousands.