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Although some indicators suggest slowing or potentially contracting IT
industry sales, members of the Global Technology Distribution Council have been
reporting solid growth.

Despite widespread caution, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic on
both sides of the Atlantic, said Tim Curran, CEO of the GTDC, which conducts a thorough
analysis of industry trends based on the NPD Group Distributor Track in the
United States and Context SalesWatch in Europe. “We’re seeing steadily
improving market conditions for distributors—not signs of a [contraction],” he
said.

In the United States,
third-quarter PC sales grew 18.6 percent from the same period last year, while sales
of notebooks rose 16.5 percent, printers, 20.5 percent, and monitors, 19.3
percent, according to the GTDC analysis.

IT distributor sales were strong through the third quarter, up nearly 15
percent in the United States
on a year-over-year basis, Curran said. “The more compelling indicator of an
overall industry recovery, however, is that U.S.
and European market sales are now consistently exceeding peak levels achieved
prior to the downturn in 2008,” he said.

D&H Distributing Co. has seen considerable improvements in demand,
according to Dan Schwab, co-president of D&H, which is a GTDC member and
has distribution operations across North America. Vertical
markets like health care are picking up momentum at D&H, which has also
experienced growth throughout the year across most of the product lines it offers.

Schwab attributed some of the new growth to advanced technologies now more clearly
moving into small and midsize businesses. “More sophisticated products and
capabilities have moved downstream from previously only being found in—and
designed for—larger enterprises,” he explained. “Such business innovations are
more affordable today, and the vendor community is working proactively with
distributors to bring these solutions to their SMB-focused partners.”

The change is evidence that the market was undergoing a “significant departure”
from the days when the “direct mantra” was touted by many IT companies, Schwab
said. “Now, they typically realize that distribution is the most
cost-effective, best way to reach and effectively serve the solution provider
community. This channel clearly has the advantage in selling to and supporting
SMBs as well as many larger enterprises worldwide. It happens in strong
partnership with distributors who have the channel-centric business models to meet
their unique requirements,” he explained.