In the past year, ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR expanded its already-robust market research efforts to include a new endeavor. Conducted by Renaissance Research & Consulting, our subscriber panel has grown to hundreds of contractors who opt to participate in monthly surveys that help our editors answer essential questions about the market, our editorial coverage and more. It has become an invaluable resource to the editorial staff in acquiring immediate feedback to better serve our audience. In return for their participation, our panelists are entered into a monthly drawing.

Just in its first year, we’ve already uncovered some interesting statistics that have helped inform ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR’s coverage. Here are some good points from a recent study:

  • Distributors dominate: 85 percent of panelists typically purchase electrical materials such as dimmers and lamps at distributors, compared with about 42 percent at big box stores, 20 percent at Amazon Supply and about 15 percent each at smaller retailers or directly from the manufacturer. (Multiple answers were allowed.)

  • House accounts rule: Not only are panelists more likely to purchase from a distributor than from other sources, but also when they make these purchases, they use a line of credit about 75 percent of the time, compared to a business credit card about 40 percent of the time. Other payment methods are used less frequently. Further, the use of a line of credit is tiny to nonexistent at other types of vendors.

  • Take-out and delivery are great: According to panelists, one-half of electrical materials and/or supplies are taken at the time of order; about 20 percent each are delivered to the job site or to the place of business.

  • Contractors demand service: Upon encountering a problem with an item requiring installation, panelists would seek out the manufacturer and/or the place where the purchase was made (almost 60 percent each; multiple answers were allowed). However, 13 percent say that they “don’t always bother complaining.”

Perhaps these results don’t reflect your experiences. Maybe you should join the panel. If answering a short survey every month, helping ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR better its coverage, and having a chance to win a $200 Amazon gift card sounds enticing, visit