According toHARDI’slatest May TRENDS survey, HVAC/R distributor sales are up 6.4% in North America from the same time last year and rebounding from a flat April. The Report also showed growth in five of seven U.S. regions, three of which experienced double digit improvement compared to May 2010. Canada finally snapped a six-month annual growth rate decline with its strongest month since November 2010.
Inventory levels were up in every North American region. One of the most positive figures was a 7% increase in distributor productivity reflected by sales per employee.
“Despite a persistently weak housing market, the overall economy is in noticeably better shape than one year ago and this has reflected positively on member sales in May. The overall sales picture in May was positive, but we must not forget that the overall economic picture at the moment is one of slowing growth and the annual growth rate for member sales has been moving lower from the 11.3% peak in March,” said HARDI economist,Andrew Duguayof the Institute for Trend Research (ITR).
“Things are definitely better than last year, but 2011’s growth continues to be uneven and inconsistent in rate,” said HARDI Executive Vice President and C.O.O.Talbot Gee. “Fundamentals are even more important this year so I will be watching productivity numbers very carefully as the summer goes on. We’ll soon learn a lot about which distributors right-sized during 2008 and 2009 because I don’t see volumes growing enough this year to justify significant expansions of distributor staff or infrastructure.”
Gee continued, “High-efficiency unitary sales are not significantly recovering from its first quarter drop with the start of the cooling season while sales of ‘dry-shipped’ R-22 units continue to steadily increase, as do sales of ductless units.”
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