Hardware Merchant Wholesalers

Wholesalers of hardware in the United States have seen tough times in the last decade which somewhat surprising given the robust nature of the construction business during the period in question, 1997 to 2007. In fact, on the retail side of the business, hardware stores and home improvement center saw growth over this period. It is worth noting that this industry saw some growth between 2002 and 2007, during the height of the housing boom. We provide market sizes data on this industry for all three census years to show this down up cycle. Despite the increase in sales from 2002 to 2007 they did not reach back to the 1997 level. If we look at inflation adjusted dollar sales, this industry’s sales in 2007 were 21% lower than in 1997.

Those involved with the wholesaling of hardware—define for this market by the Census Bureau as “establishments primarily engaged in the merchant wholesale distribution of hardware, knives, or handtools,” [NAICS 42-3710]— may be suffering from the rise of the big box retailer who in many cases deals directly with the manufacture to obtain merchandise. But, we will leave a closer look at retailers until next week.

Geographic reference: United States
Year: 1997, 2002 and 2007
Market size: Number of Establishments: 9,473; 6,841 and 6,921 respectively.
Market size: Sales: $44.06; $32.83 and $43.90 Billion respectively.
Market size: Employment: 110,963; 81,734 and 88,859 respectively.
Source: “Sector 42: EC0742I2: Wholesale Trade: Industry Series: Preliminary Comparative Statistics for the United States (2002 NAICS Basis): 2007 and 2002,” 2007 Economic Census, available online here. The data from 1997 are from the 1997 Economic Census, after conversion of the data to a NAICS 2002 basis.
Original Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census.


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