With more than 18 months to go before the Department of Labor’s fiduciary rule is fully enforced, annuity writers may already be feeling the impact on their sales numbers.

According to the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute’s first quarter 2016 U.S. retail annuity sales survey, variable annuity sales totaled $26.6 billion in the first quarter of 2016, down 18 percent from the same period in 2015.

Variable annuity sales declined industrywide, with 19 of the top 20 manufacturers reporting decreases, LIMRA said.

“We are seeing a significant shift in the annuity market,” said Todd Giesing, assistant research director at the LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute, in a statement. “In the first quarter, VA sales had a 45 percent market share, compared with a 60 percent market share just a year ago. We have to go back 20 years—to 1995—to find when the VA market share was 45 percent or lower.”

In 2016, LIMRA expects variable annuity sales to drop 15 to 20 percent, and then another 25 to 30 percent in 2017 when the DOL fiduciary rule goes into effect.

Nevertheless, LIMRA said that annuity sales in general have hit their third consecutive quarter of positive growth.

Total annuity sales during the first quarter were $58.9 billion, 9 percent higher than the previous year’s results, according to the report.

In the first quarter, sales of fixed annuities, which are exempted from the requirements of the DOL rule’s best interest contract, increased 48 percent to $32.3 billion. All retail fixed products experienced double-digit growth over the first quarter of 2015, according to LIMRA.

Indexed annuity sales also increased by 35 percent to $15.8 billion, with increases reported by all of the top 10 annuity writers. LIMRA said that indexed annuity sales have experienced eight consecutive years of positive growth, and that sales should continue to increase throughout 2016.

Those increased indexed annuity sales may have been based on wrongheaded assumptions, said Giesing.