Wholesale Trade

This sector comprises firms that primarily sell merchandise in bulk to businesses and other organizations. Wholesalers sell or arrange the purchase or sale of three types of merchandise: goods sold to retailers or other wholesalers, capital or durable non-consumer goods and raw materials or supplies used in production.

Wholesale Trade

Output ($b)1 IVA ($b)2 Market Size3 Employment (m)* Wages & Benefits ($m)* EBITDA ($m)4
$340.7 $133.1 9/18 1,226 $43.8 $92.7

Sector Overview

Wholesalers specialize in commercial transactions, as firms provide bulk sales to institutional, industrial, wholesale and retail clients. As a result, wholesalers are not usually organized to serve the general public. Instead, firms typically operate from a warehouse or office that is not designed nor located to solicit a high volume of walk-in traffic.

The wholesaling process is an intermediate step in the distribution of merchandise. Customers are initially reached by telephone, specialized advertising or in-person marketing. Follow-up orders are either vendor-initiated or client-initiated, and generally depend on previous sales or order history. Wholesaling normally denotes large volume sales as products are generally supplied to commercial operators, including institutional, industrial, wholesale and retail clients. However, some items may be sold in single units. These items include capital or durable non-consumer goods used for commercial purposes, such as farm machinery, medium and heavy duty trucks and other industrial equipment.

This sector comprises three main types of wholesalers:

  • Merchant Wholesalers Representing Manufacturers – Comprises wholesalers that exclusively promote and sell products from a particular manufacturer.
  • Merchant Wholesalers Representing Retailers – Comprises wholesalers that only provide products to a particular retail chain, or a limited number of retail chains on a need-only basis.
  • Wholesale Brokers and Agents – Comprises wholesale agents and brokers that arrange sales and purchases for others on a fee or commission basis.

LARG Industry Reports

Los Angeles Research Group provides 71 industry reports detailing the Wholesale Trade sector. Each report contains detailed information on output, employment, enterprises, establishments, assets, liabilities and profitability. LARG’s industry reports also provide in-depth information on market share concentrations, business structure (e.g., corporations, sole-proprietorships, partnerships), key economic indicators, supply chain data, debt ratios and new entrant trends, including survivor rates (i.e., percentage of new businesses that last longer than five years).

In addition to LARG’s standardized report information, LARG’s industry reports in the Wholesale Trade sector also provide specialized statistics, including detailed information on customers, inventories, commissions and employee functions. For more information on a particular industry, please click on the appropriate industry below.

Sector Growth5

Sector Cost Structure*


Wholesale Trade

Car, Truck & Other Motor Vehicle Wholesalers Auto Parts Wholesalers Tire Wholesalers
Used Auto Parts Wholesalers Furniture Wholesalers Home Furnishing Wholesalers
Lumber, Plywood & Millwork Wholesalers Construction Material Wholesalers Roofing, Siding & Insulation Material Wholesalers
Durable Goods Wholesalers Camera & Film Wholesalers Office Equipment Wholesalers
Computer, Peripheral & Software Wholesalers Commercial Equipment Wholesalers Medical Equipment & Supplies Wholesalers
Ophthalmic Goods Wholesalers Professional Equipment & Supplies Wholesalers Metal Service Centers & Wholesalers
Coal, Mineral & Ore Wholesalers Electrical Apparatus & Equipment Wholesalers Home Entertainment & Appliance Wholesalers
Electronic Parts & Equipment Wholesalers Tool & Hardware Wholesalers Plumbing & Heating Supplies Wholesalers
HVAC Equipment & Supplies Wholesalers Refrigeration Equipment & Supplies Wholesalers Construction & Mining Equipment Wholesalers
Farm, Lawn & Garden Equipment Wholesalers Industrial Machinery & Equipment Wholesalers Industrial Supplies Wholesalers
Service Equipment & Supplies Wholesalers Aircraft, Marine & Railroad Supplies Wholesalers Sporting & Recreational Goods Wholesalers
Toy & Craft Supplies Wholesalers Recyclable Material Wholesalers Jewelry, Watch & Precious Metal Wholesalers
Durable Goods & Other Misc. Wholesalers Paper Wholesalers Office Supplies & Stationery Wholesalers
Sanitary Paper Products & Bags Wholesalers Drug, Cosmetic & Toiletry Wholesalers Fabric & Apparel Wholesalers
Men's & Boys' Apparel Wholesalers Women, Children & Infants Apparel Wholesalers Footwear Wholesalers
Grocery Wholesalers Frozen Food Wholesalers Dairy Wholesalers
Poultry & Egg Wholesalers Candy Wholesalers Fish & Seafood Wholesalers
Beef & Pork Wholesalers Fruit & Vegetable Wholesalers Baked Goods, Soda & Misc. Grocery Wholesalers
Corn, Wheat & Misc. Grain Wholesalers Cattle, Hog & Other Livestock Wholesalers Farm Product Wholesalers
Plastics Wholesalers Chemical & Allied Products Wholesalers Gasoline & Petroleum Bulk Stations & Terminals
Gasoline & Petroleum Wholesalers Beer & Ale Wholesalers Wine & Spirits Wholesalers
Farm Supplies Wholesalers Book, Magazine & Newspaper Wholesalers Flower & Nursery Stock Wholesalers
Cigarette & Tobacco Wholesalers Paint Wholesalers Nondurable Goods Wholesalers
Business to Business E-Commerce Wholesale Trade Agents & Brokers
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