ARLINGTON, Va. - As economists endeavor to help balance the current financial infrastructure, the industry’s shipment numbers continue to experience a steady cooling effect as evidenced by the February reports released by the Air-Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI). According to the manufacturers’ association, the combined U.S. factory shipments of central air conditioners and air-source heat pumps were down 21 percent as compared to February of last year, and the year-to-date combined totals were down 27 percent compared to the same period last year.

Heat pump shipments were down 18 percent compared on a monthly scale and 23 percent year-to-date. Gas and oil-fired furnaces dropped 21.2 percent and 28.5 percent year-to-date, respectively.

Distributor numbers are hurting some as well. According to Heating, Airconditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International’s (HARDI’s) monthly Targeted and Regional Economic News for Distribution Strategies (TRENDS) report, HVACR distributor sales for the month of Feb. 2009 were (at median) -12.7 percent when compared to Feb. 2008. The HARDI West Region posted the steepest decline at -30.2 percent at median with Canada the least at -0.2 percent. Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Great Lakes, and Central Regions all experienced double-digit declines in sales.

The Southwestern region reported a sales decline of -7.4 percent at median with the Northeast posting a -5.2 percent decline. Median Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) stood at 51.22 days up one day from Jan. 2009.

Despite the leveling currently taking place in the overall economy, however, some analysts are predicting that things will swing closer to pre-recession levels sometime in the middle of this year. Others have recently pushed that date closer to the end of this year, but still expect to see some type of economic turnaround before the end of 2009.

Publication date:04/27/2009