A recent survey by the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NEAD) indicated sales expectations among electrical distributors remains steady. In the most recent Quarterly Sales Change Expectation survey results, 84 percent of the 275 respondents reported a projected increase in sales for third quarter 2004. Projections for fourth quarter 2004 were more cautious, with only 77.5 percent of participants anticipating continued growth. Despite this 'tempered optimism,' overall evaluation of the last six quarters, second quarter 2003 through third quarter 2004, shows an increase in distributors' sales expectations of more than 15 percent.

Regionally the Midwest led in sales expectations, with an increase from 86.1 percent in the second quarter to 92.6 percent in the third quarter. The South and Northeast saw a slight decline in sales expectations, decreasing from 85.5 percent in the second quarter to 82.9 percent in the third quarter. The western region observed the greatest decline after leading sales expectations for the first and second quarters, 85.9 percent and 93.3 percent, respectively. All companies, regardless of number of employees, reported expected increased sales for the fourth quarter; medium size businesses, companies with 30 to 49 employees, showed the most optimism. NAED distributed the survey in early September via fax and e-mail to approximately 3,700 distributor locations. A|L