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The Neon Sign Industry 2000 — An Inaugural Report

This landmark survey reveals that neon signage encompasses a $1.4 billion industry

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Signs of the Times magazine has conducted what could be the first-ever neon survey of the electric sign industry. Based on 142 responses from companies ranging in sales volume from $60,000 to $109 million, here are some of the highlights.

  • The average electric-sign company sells more than $700,000 in neon products annually, which accounts for nearly 30% of its income.
  • For illuminated signs, neon is used 41% of the time, compared to 49% for fluorescent lighting. Exterior neon is used three times more often than interior neon.
  • By a wide margin, channel letters are the most common form of neon signage.
  • Wholesalers fabricate more than 40% of all neon sold.
  • In 1999, the average electric-sign company sold 18% more neon than it did in 1998.
  • From 1998 to 1999, neon’s percentage of electric-sign companies’ overall sales volumes grew by more than 16%.

Consider this data as a companion study to the Electric State of the Industry (SOI) report that will be published in July 2000. Note that we have calculated results in the same sales-volume categories used in the Electric SOI.

There is one major difference. The Electric SOI is conducted annually by Smyth Marketing Resources, a professional research company. This neon survey was conducted in-house, much like our studies on vinyl (February 2000), banners (November 1999) and other product/material-specific studies. Despite this distinction, this article will make frequent references to the Electric SOI and calculate comparative extrapolations as well.

To view a full report, purchase the March 2001 issue of Signs of the Times magazine, here.

Preview:

Table 1: Sales Volume 1999
Sales Volume $ # % of Total Sales $ % of Total Sales/Response $ Neon Sales % Neon Sales $ Neon Sales/Response $
<100K 15 10.9 789 0.2 52,600 62.4 492,336 32,822
100K-249K 20 14.5 3,193 0.9 159,650 39.1 1,248,463 62,423
250K-499K 22 15.9 7,375 2.2 335,227 39.4 2,905,750 132,080
500K-999K 31 22.5 19,368 5.8 624,774 29.8 5,771,664 186,183
1M-2.49M 25 18.1 38,400 11.5 1,536M 31.7 12,172,800 486,912
2.5M-4.9M 8 5.8 27,500 8.2 3,437,500 38.0 10,450,000 1,306,250
>5M 17 12.3 240,031 71.4 14,119,470 26.9 64,568,339 3,798,137
n/a 4         36.3    
Total 138 100   100 2,439,536   97,609,352 707,314

Table 1 suggests smaller companies may rely on a higher percentage of neon sales. Yet the percentages are quite uniform; the range for the six sales-volume categories over $100,000 is only 27%-39%.

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