Year-over-year sales dropped -2% for December 2023 vs. 2022. On a month-to-month basis (December vs. November 2023), all respondents reported sales decline of -9%--the second consecutive month of declines. Year-to-date sales through December 2023 remained in positive territory at nearly 2% growth vs. 2022.

“2023 came in like a lion and out like a lamb — January and February recorded double digit year-over-year growth to begin the year, while the year ended with most firms reporting flat or declining sales for November and December. It was a very challenging economic environment to operate in for 2023,” Industry Insights Senior Vice President Greg Manns said. “In July, we had the fourth-rate hike of 2023 — the last of 11 hikes that began in March 2022. This tightening monetary policy created a headwind for many of the construction related industries."

What ASA distributor members are saying:

Some comments from ASA member distributors that participated in the December monthly sales report:

  • “Business activity levels remained solid, but softer than expected as construction activity slowed due to the ongoing impact of higher interest rates and inflation. With uncertainty around business conditions over the next quarter or two, this leads to additional challenges related to recruiting and appropriate staffing levels to support current and future needs.”
  • “Business has been stronger than expected, however our accounts receivable has grown as customers are paying us slower than a year or two ago.”
  • “Generally, I feel the year was positive. The decrease in sales was like other companies I talked to and a result of the current economy.”
  • “Our business activity definitely slowed down in the 4th quarter in comparison to last year and we are anticipating that sales in the first 6 months of 2024 will be flat to even down slightly when compared with the first 6 months of 2023.”
  • “The market seems extremely soft still.”
  • “We had another strong year.”
  • “While 2023 remained a strong year, the market has softened. The challenge for 2024 will be expense control.”