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The Wholesale Industry is Skyrocketing

4 min read
Aug 19, 2022 8:13:54 AM

It’s time for the wholesale supplies industry to, in the words of David Bowie, “turn and face the strange.” The reasons for this are myriad. The industry has faced some major changes in recent years, from pandemic-accelerated overstocks, to the sudden pausing of trade shows where wholesalers once sold their wares.

Wholesale clothing and wholesale accessory vendors that used relatively the same business model for 30+ years suddenly need to reimagine their entire strategy. Established wholesale suppliers are finding themselves back at square one, with the need to navigate a new world for which many are entirely unprepared. 

Fortunately, the present day wholesale marketplace isn’t all apocalyptic fire and brimstone. The global wholesale market is expected to grow from $42,119.22 billion in 2021 to a healthy $46,370.23 billion this year. New retail technologies are harkening a new era in the wholesale industry. A new era which, ironically, will be built on more personal communication than ever. Here’s what you need to know.

Wholesale performance by sector

It’s hard to talk about the wholesale industry as a whole, since performance and opportunities vary greatly by sector. Let’s take a look at three of the largest wholesale categories –– wholesale jewelry, wholesale clothing and accessories, and wholesale supplies –– as well as the outlook for each sector.

Wholesale jewelry market growth

Contrary to popular belief, there are industries that have benefited from recent price increases. The jewelry business, for instance, has recently skyrocketed due to the rising cost of precious metals, including gold and silver. The wholesale jewelry and watch sector alone has grown to become a $62 billion industry

Jewelry wholesalers are now uniquely positioned to set their own prices and choose the retailers they want to work with. As such, the wholesale jewelry market is a beacon of hope for luxury wholesale retailers during turbulent times.

Wholesale clothing & wholesale accessories

Here’s another market that’s slowly expanding while others falter. The US online apparel, footwear and accessories market is expected to increase by $91.54 billion, at a compound annual growth rate of 11.91% between 2021 and 2026. 

No data has been released (for free) on the wholesale apparel & accessory market for 2022, so we have to look at stock market performance to assess the market at large. And wholesale clothing stocks are surging: wholesale apparel stocks rose another 6.4% in April after jumping 4.0% in March

Wholesale supplies

U.S. wholesale inventories as a whole rose by 1.9% in June. While the wholesale supplies industry dominates the wholesale market, the industry has so many different branches that it’s impossible to pull numbers on overall sales. What we can say is that restaurant supply stores took a large hit when stores shuttered during the onset of Covid. However, revenue is expected to rise at an annualized rate of 1.3% a year to $13.2 billion by the end of 2022. 

Like wholesale clothing and accessories, we can only conceptualize sales of wholesale supplies in context of the retailers selling them. Japanese company Mitsubishi, which is largely regarded as the largest wholesale company in the world, reported revenue growth of 7% YoY, bringing Mitsubishi’s annual revenue to 4.48 trillion yen. On the other side of the globe, American wholesaler Costco reported sales of $188.34 billion last year, which was up by 16.9% over 2021 numbers. While China’s answer to Amazon, Alibaba Holding Group, saw sales revenue grow by a whopping 19% YoY.

Additional influencing factors

Wholesale inventories increased by 24% in April, as compared to last year. Wholesale sales, on the other hand, have slowed since the initial post-lockdown spending surge. Economists are predicting another economic downturn in the coming year, and that prediction has many retailers hesitant to stock up on goods. 

The value of certain goods and raw materials is also fluctuating. Viral spread of Coronavirus and the new Monkeypox pandemic have global trade conditions in flux. But, as we’ve seen with gold and silver, this isn’t always a bad thing for wholesalers. Especially those with the agility to shift with the changing wholesale landscape, as well as those that have the communication infrastructure in place to attract new retail clients.

Inventory pileups demand new selling channels

But modern wholesalers aren’t just working to attract new clients, they’re also redefining the way the industry itself operates. For instance, 20 years ago, it would have been unfathomable for wholesalers to sell directly to consumers. But e-commerce has recently expanded beyond just traditional retailers selling their goods from an online catalog. 

Since the pandemic reduced the size and dollar amount of retail orders, wholesalers had to find new channels to retain margins. Today, an increasing number of wholesalers are expanding into a DTC (direct to consumer) model. In fact,  eMarketer projects that the DTC market will grow by nearly 17% between 2021 and 2022. The potential to reach customers directly is too much for some brands to pass up. Even many brands that have historically had both retail and wholesale components, such as Nike, are refocusing on a DTC model.

Onwards into 2023 and beyond

The wholesale industry is rapidly growing, even while other sectors struggle. The global wholesale industry is expected to reach $65.6 billion by 2026. Relationship management is one of the most important aspects of the wholesale industry, preceded only by product quality. Surefront is the only product lifecycle management platform that was built by and for the retail industry. 

Surefront helps wholesale suppliers customize quotes for prospective retail clients in just minutes. On top of this, you can choose what product information is shared with retailers and what stays within your organization. Quick, seamless communication gives our wholesale clients a competitive advantage when chatting with new prospects. With Surefront, you can focus on creating the connections that help grow your business –– all of your product data is housed on one, easy to use platform. 

It’s time we got better acquainted. Book a custom demo with one of our Product Lifecycle Management experts today!

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