Respondents to ASA’s monthly sales report reported a median sales increase of 27% for February 2022 vs. the same February 2021 timeframe. These results reflect another month of robust performance compared to the same month a year ago, though compared to January 2022 totals, the median sales growth was a more modest 4.5%, reports Industry Insights, which prepares the report for ASA distributor members. 

Respondents reported calendar year-to-date sales growth of 25%. For the trailing 12 months ending February 2022, respondents reported strong sales growth of 23.4%. 

Industry Insights notes the trailing 12-month totals should be viewed with caution. 

“The current trailing 12-month period contains sales from a period that has experienced significant price inflation and the comparison 12-month period contains 10 months of 2020 that had multiple weeks of closures or partial closures,” Industry Insights Senior Vice President Greg Manns said.

“Nonetheless, it is encouraging that half the respondents reported trailing-12-month sales growth between 17.2% to 32%.” 

Inventory jumped 38% for February 2022 vs. February 2021. 

The median three-month-average days sales outstanding edged up from 40 days in January to 41 in February. 

Industrial PVF 

Industrial PVF distribution firm respondents to the monthly sales report showed a median sales increase of 33.5% for February 2022 vs. February 2021. On a trailing-12-month basis, industrial PVF respondents reported a median sales increase of 27.4%. Inventory rose 32.93 for February 2022 vs. February 2021, while the three-months-average days sales outstanding decreased slightly to 49.3 for industrial PVF respondents. 

Economic indicators 

The final “Real GDP” figure for the fourth quarter of 2021 was revised down slightly to 6.9% growth. Total wholesale sales for January grew 21.8% year-over-year, while inventories grew 17.8% vs. the prior year. Housing starts increased in February, but housing permits declined after four consecutive months of increases. The unemployment rate for February dropped to 3.8% and initial claims for unemployment decreased in February, remaining below 300,000 for the fifth consecutive month and trending closer to the 200,000 mark.  

Some comments from ASA member distributors:

  • “Business remains very strong. We are in a better inventory position relative to a few months ago.”
  • “Costs continue to rise. Employment is stable, but below historical highs. After factoring inflation, sales are below the prior year. The overall outlook appears good, but many uncertainties remain.”
  • “Demand is still strong, but we are worried that inflation will cause everyone to hold off on projects.”
  • “Inflation, supply chain and workforce challenges continue.”
  • “Runaway inflation and material shortages continue to put significant pressure on our business. Fortunately, these issues persist for everyone.”