4Q23 MarketPulse: Year Ends Softer as 2024 Outlook Improves - Modern Distribution Management

Log In

4Q23 MarketPulse: Year Ends Softer as 2024 Outlook Improves

Find a wealth of data and analysis extracted from the 4Q23 Baird-MDM Industrial Distribution Survey, including trending charts and figures for revenue and expectations, plus plenty of interesting commentary.

After two strong revenue rebound years in 2021 and 2022, the air leaked out of the tires throughout 2023, with Baird-MDM survey respondents reporting decelerating revenue performance throughout the fourth quarter. Driving factors included extended customer holiday shutdowns, destocking, softening industrial market conditions and growing pricing pressures with inflation pressures easing. (Read more in the latest MDM 4Q 2023 MarketPulse Report)

The good news? Survey respondents indicate we may be in the trough. First-quarter 2024 revenue expectations are for 1.4% growth, with a full-year forecast of 3.3% growth over 2023. That estimate is in the ballpark of consensus forecasts from several sources. ITR Economics offers a more tempered outlook, as Alan Beaulieu painted a slight recessionary outlook for the year at the NAW Executive Summit on Feb. 1, with a moderate rebound beginning at the end of 2024.

MDM Forecasts for the entire U.S. wholesale distribution industry, which is on track to finish down about 1% from 2022 revenues of $8.2 trillion, currently estimates industry revenues to rebound in 2024 with 3.5% growth.

Excluding acquisitions, fourth-quarter revenues softened -0.8% year over year, while pricing moderated by -0.1% during the quarter. That’s a mirror image of the second quarter decrease of -0.8% after strong first-quarter revenue growth of 3.2%. Third-quarter 2023 revenues declined 0.5% year-to-year. 

Across the 20 sectors represented in the survey, the Gases & Cylinder Rental segment reported the strongest growth at 7.5% for the 2023 fourth quarter. The Landscape Supplies, Pool & Spa, and Waterworks Products segments posted the next strongest revenue performance. General Industrial (MRO), OEM Fasteners, Datacomm and Safety segments posted the most negative results.

Measuring sentiment for revenue growth in 2024, about two-thirds of respondents across sectors expect stable or increasing revenue growth, while a third expect revenue declines. A common thread to comments centered on second-half growth picking up. “We think there’s some growth possibility for 2024,” said an industrial MRO, safety and cutting tools distributor. “It would be 2H weighted for sure, with 1H probably pretty static or down y/y if the trend of 4Q23 carries into 1Q24. The latter part of the year indicators seem to be things will be picking up: infrastructure money is continuing to come through and some of these projects are not even out of the ground yet.”

MDM Premium subscribers can download and view the MDM 4Q 2023 MarketPulse Report from here.

Not a Premium subscriber? You can change that here.

Related Posts

Share this article

About the Author
Recommended Reading
Leave a Reply

Leave a Comment

Sign Up for the MDM Update Newsletter

The MDM update newsletter is your best source for news and trends in the wholesale distribution industry.

Get the MDM Update Newsletter

Wholesale distribution news and trends delivered right to your inbox.

Sign-up for our free newsletter and get:

  • Up-to-date news in a quick-to-read format
  • Free access to webcasts, podcasts and live events
  • Exclusive whitepapers, research and reports
  • And more!


articles left

Want more Premium content from MDM?

Subscribe today and get:

  • New issues twice each month
  • Unlimited access to mdm.com, including 10+ years of archived data
  • Current trends analysis, market data and economic updates
  • Discounts on select store products and events

Subscribe to continue reading

MDM Premium Subscribers get:

  • Unlimited access to MDM.com
  • 1 year digital subscription, with new issues twice a month
  • Trends analysis, market data and quarterly economic updates
  • Deals on select store products and events



You have one free article remaining

Subscribe to MDM Premium to get unlimited access. Your subscription includes:

  • Two new issues a month
  • Access to 10+ years of archived data on mdm.com
  • Quarterly economic updates, trends analysis and market data
  • Store and event discounts

To continue reading, you must be an MDM Premium subscriber.

Join other distribution executives who use MDM Premium to optimize their business. Our insights and analysis help you enter the right new markets, turbocharge your sales and marketing efforts, identify business partners that help you scale, and stay ahead of your competitors.

Register for full access

By providing your email, you agree to receive announcements from us and our partners for our newsletter, events, surveys, and partner resources per MDM Terms & Conditions. You can withdraw consent at any time.

Learn More about Custom Reports

Request a Market Prospector Demo

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.