The January News & Events That Will Affect The Promotional Products Industry

Welcome to 2020. Tariffs, elections, the economy, shifting technology, and shipping rates are just a few things rattling our cages as we dip into a new decade. There’s an air of uncertainty around what will happen this year. This uneasy feeling is compounded for all of us in the promotional products industry where policies and macroeconomic events have a direct impact on our bottom line. Staying up on these current events can lead to more informed decisions. 

Sounds great, but it’s hard to keep up with everything going on in and around our industry (and world). That’s why we’ll be including this feature article in Trends by ZOOMcatalog each month. Our goal is simple, help you stay informed on the news & events shaping the future of the promotional products industry. 

You will receive objective information on everything from tariffs to industry events. We will not take positions or provide opinions. Our purpose is not to advocate for any one position, policy, event, or cause. We will simply serve up facts and information so you can make better decisions. 

Now for the January 2020 news & events shaping our industry. 

Phase-One Trade Deal With China 

President Trump is set to sign the phase one trade deal with China on January 15th in Washington. The world’s two largest economies finalized the deal last month after a tumultuous year of back and forth tension caused by a trade war. 

“I will be signing our very large and comprehensive Phase One Trade Deal with China on January 15. The ceremony will take place at the White House. High level representatives of China will be present. At a later date I will be going to Beijing where talks will begin on Phase Two!”

Tweet from Donald Trump

Three notable aspects in the phase one deal:

  • The U.S. will continue to levy a 25 percent tariff on about $250 billion of imported Chinese goods, but tariffs on another $120 billion of imports would be reduced to 7.5 percent.
  • The deal will pause a planned 15 percent tariff on $156 billion in Chinese imports.  A few key items included are consumer goods such as toys, clothes and electronics. 
  • China will buy $200 billion in U.S. goods and at least $40 billion in agricultural products.

A full fact sheet on the phase one deal posted by the USTR (The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative) can be found here

Shipping Rates On The Rise

FedEx and UPS rates for 2020 have both been increased over 2019 pricing. An increase in rates is to be expected. However, there are a few notable aspects to plan for and price for this year. One of the biggest changes is a $24 weight surcharge that will start at 50 lbs instead of 70 lbs. Here are the other key aspects of the rate increases for FedEx and UPS to account for this year. 


  • As of January 6, 2020, FedEx Express rates increased 4.9% on average.
  • The same 4.9% average increase went into effect for FedEx Ground and FedEx Home deliveries. 
  • 2020 FedEx Freight costs increased on average 5.9% from the previous year. 
  • FedEx Freight increased its non-stackable package surcharge from $215 to $230 for both US and International Express Freight. 
  • FedEx Express and Ground dimension surcharge (for boxes where the longest side is over 48 inches or the second-longest side is over 30 inches) increased from $13.50 to $15 for US and International. 
  • FedEx increased handling surcharges for shipping dangerous goods. This includes packages with dry ice.


  • As of December 30, 2019, UPS Air Freight increased 4.2% for the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico. 
  • UPS Ground, Air, and International increased by 4.9% on average. 
  • UPS increased rates for packages weighing 100 lbs or more. 

These increased rates leave promotional product suppliers and distributors evaluating options to balance out the financial impact. The above bullets are select facts you need to know. We recommend doing a full review of all changes to prepare for the year ahead. Get full rate info for FedEx here. Get full rate info for UPS here

Notable January Events 

An important part of growing a business involves knowing what’s going on in and around the industry. A great start is having a finger on the pulse of what products are hot (link to 7 trends post) and attending key industry shows. It’s also vital to get an idea of what’s in the works. To predict the future, it’s often necessary to look outside of the industry at events where we get a glimpse of future product trends. Let’s start with a look inside the industry before shifting our focus to one of the most influential trade shows of the year. 

ASI Show® Orlando 

This one’s in the past, but a list of January events for the Promotional Products industry isn’t complete without a mention of ASI Show® Orlando. Stay tuned for a full recap of this show and PPAI Expo coming your way next month. 

PPAI Expo | January 12-16 | Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas 

The largest North American trade show for the promotional products industry featuring 1,300 exhibitors and over 20,000 attendees. Held in the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, the show features educational events and booth browsing in the conference hall. Grab a glimpse at the schedule here

CES 2020 | January 7-10 | Las Vegas 

No, CES is not a promotional products industry trade show, but it will shape the future of the promotional products industry. This gargantuan show, held in three locations because of its size, will blow your mind. Over 170,000 attendees suck up every room in Las Vegas to be part of the four day show. 

CES is a preview of the future products and trends to keep an eye on for the coming year. Companies large and small unveil their hottest new products and crazy prototypes. A thorough review of the show can help savvy suppliers and distributors get ahead of product trends. 

If you’re at home reading this article, you missed the show. No worries, keep an eye out for recaps and spotlight articles. You can learn everything you need to know from the extensive media coverage. Let us know if you’d like a spotlight article recapping CES in next month’s Trends by ZOOMcatalog issue.

The News & Events That Matter To You

Have a particular topic or event you’d like us to cover in future issues of Trends? Let us know. We’d love to hear what’s on your mind.