Industry Gains in June; Contractors Stay Cautious

According to industry associations, HVACR shipments and sales improved in the month of June. Both the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) and the Heating, Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) reported shipments and sales were up, due in part to hot summer weather. Despite these gains, contractors were reported to be less optimistic.

AHRI reported that shipments in June were up in all but one of the product categories it tracks. Compared to June 2009, shipments in June 2010 were up for residential water heaters, commercial water heaters, warm air furnaces, central air conditioners and air-source heat pumps. The greatest gain was in shipments of residential gas water heaters, which increased 25 percent in June 2010 compared to June 2009. Air conditioners and heat pumps saw the smallest gains, at 2 percent and 7 percent, respectively; however, these categories have risen 6 and 8 percent, respectively, year-to-date. According to AHRI, shipments of oil warm air furnaces decreased 11 percent in June 2010, but year-to-date shipments for this category are still up 16 percent.

HARDI also reported growth in June. According to the HARDI report, distributor sales for June 2010 were up over 10 percent compared to last year. HARDI reported, “All of HARDI’s seven U.S. regions were up in June with four exceeding double-digit growth. Canada continued its strong run and remains the only HARDI region showing a running 12 months in the positive.”

HARDI attributed the gains to the hot summer weather and “steadily increasing rate of sales of high-efficiency equipment.” It also noted that June marked the fourth consecutive month in which overall distributor sales were up from 2009.

Despite the gains in June, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) reported its measurement of contractor confidence dropped for July. ACCA measures contractor attitudes toward short-term economic growth with its Contractor Comfort Index (CCI), which was calculated at 64 for July, down from 69 in June.

“Given the unusual heat of this summer season across the country, and the fact that many of our member contractors have been extremely busy with record activity, it is interesting that their short-term economic outlook is growing more cautious,” said Kevin Holland, ACCA division vice president, business operations and membership. “The entire business community is uncertain about activities in Washington, and that may be fueling contractor concerns, as well. Since this is a new index, we will continue to monitor trends from month to month, and season to season.”

Publication date: 08/30/2010

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