Industry Trends and Outlook: SGIA's Garment Decoration Benchmarking Findings

Written March 13, 2019 by Olga Dorokhina

Categories: AD News, Journal Articles - Garment

Garment Edition
Winter 2019

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SGIA conducted its Industry Survey in early 2018. The goal of the survey was to evaluate the industry’s current situation, identify trends and provide garment decorators with information for their business decisions today and strategic planning for the future. 

The following shares some of our findings, which are based on the responses of 119 garment decorators from the United States and Canada. Access the full report in the Research section of

Company Dynamics 
The median number of employees is seven, and the median annual sales revenue is $1,100,000, which is slightly lower than it was last year. This change could be due to the 20% increase in the number of small companies (participants with less than five employees). The number of survey participants with revenue between $250,000 and $1,500,000 has almost doubled compared to last year, with the same pattern represented in the “$5,000,000–$10,000,000” segment. 

Technology Use and Services 
Companies use different types of technologies but tend to rely more and more on digital technology. The proportion of those using digital either solely or as part of a multi-technological approach has almost doubled since 2016.

The ratio of those who provide post-production/finishing services to their customers to those who do not continues to be 2:1 (62.4% vs. 37.6%). Bagging/tagging, fulfillment, sewing, grommeting and warehousing have been offered the most by garment decorators this year. 

Equipment Purchases 
The level of capital spending stayed strong this year. More than two-thirds of respondents spent at least $5,000 on equipment, and expected spending is on the rise for the “$5,000-$49,999” segment. About four out of five respondents (78.5%) indicated indicated they intend to spend either the same amount or more on equipment. Durability of equipment, customer support and brand name/reputation are the most important factors influencing equipment purchases for at least half of the respondents. 

Markets and Products 
The athletic, educational institutions, business-to-consumer, nonprofit and corporate branding markets are served by the majority of garment decorators and are considered to have the highest growth potential. T-shirts, performance wear, hats/caps and bags are the most popular end products for the majority of respondents. The first three were identified as growing areas as well. The popularity of patches and appliqués is also on the rise. 

Business Strategy 
Finding new customers, downward pressure on prices and recruiting/retaining production personnel were identified as the main barriers to growth. 

When it comes to staying competitive in production, companies tend to focus on reducing costs, becoming a one-stop shop and adding new product lines. 

Business Outlook 
The median sales growth continues to be around 7%. Two-thirds of the companies (68.1%) reported positive sales growth, which is close to last year’s 68.4%. About two-thirds of the companies reported increased production. Approximately nine out of 10 companies expect an increase in sales and production in the future, while about half expect the same for employment and prices for products sold. 

The findings showed another strong year for the industry. To overcome current barriers to growth, we encourage companies to explore new markets and extend product offerings while maintaining a focus on current customers. 

Dorokhina_OlgaOlga Dorokhina, Research Coordinator at SGIA, has extensive experience in research, from survey design to data analysis and reports' presentation. Olga strongly believes that numbers can tell us interesting stories and that we just need to listen to them while making our everyday business decisions. Her goal is to understand where the companies are located on the industry map compared to other players and provide them with the tools to achieve their potential. 
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