ASA’s Monthly Pulse Report shows member distributors enjoyed a median sales increase of 8.7% for the month ending May 31, 2018 vs. 2017.

For calendar year-to-date, respondents reported a median sales growth of 8.0%. For the trailing 12 months ending May 31, 2018, respondents reported a median sales growth of 7.0%. Inventory rose 6.2% for May 2018 vs. 2017.

The median three-months average days sales outstanding decreased to 43.9 days in May. Nearly 53% of respondents reported an increase in gross margin percentages for May 2018 vs. 2017. Company year-to-date profit before tax increased for 62% of the respondents and more than half reported having more full-time equivalent employees vs. a year ago.

Economic indicators
Also in the most-recent Pulse, the advance report of the “real” GDP figure for the first quarter was released at 2.3% growth. For the 21st consecutive month, total wholesale sales growth exceeded inventory growth. Total wholesale sales grew 7.8% for April 2018, while inventories reported growth of 5.8%.

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in May with the PMI coming in at 58.7%. A reading of 50% or more indicates expansion in the manufacturing sector. Manufacturers’ new orders of consumer goods increased slightly, but manufacturers’ new orders of nondefense capital goods decreased in April.

The unemployment rate in May dropped to 3.8%, representing a 17-year low. The weekly initial claims for unemployment edged up slightly in May and the four-week average still remains near historical lows that haven’t been seen since the early 1970s.

Housing starts and building permits both dropped in April.