The U.S manufacturing and distribution sector is in a slump, as of mid-2023. Productivity is down, and so are sales and business buyer confidence.
For example, manufacturers expect sales to rise just 1.6% over the next 12 months. That’s down from 2.7% in the first quarter and the slowest pace since Q2 2020, The National Association of Manufacturers says in its latest quarterly survey. More than 49% of manufacturers predict sales will increase over the next four quarters. 31.7% said orders will rise 5% or more. Large manufacturers (those with 500 or more employees) felt the most upbeat in their sales expectations. They predicted 2.4% growth over the next year. In contrast, small and medium-sized firms expect 1.2% growth.
One key takeaway from year-to-date sales information is that sales — and other B2B manufacturing and distribution metrics — are hibernating. Both rising costs and slowing demand from a softening economy are hindering business-to-business purchasing.
But if there is a constant that’s a carryover from 2022 and into the first half of 2023, it’s B2B ecommerce and the ongoing digital transformation of U.S. manufacturing and distribution companies.
For the first six months of the year, total B2B ecommerce sales will grow to reach $1.099 trillion. That would be up 15% from $956.1 billion in the first six months of 2022, based on a projection from Digital Commerce 360.
In the second quarter B2B ecommerce sales will grow at a slightly faster rate and reach $566.1 billion. That would be up 16% from $488.6 billion in the second quarter of 2022, projects Digital Commerce 360.