COLUMBUS, Ohio - Heating, Airconditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International (HARDI) announced North American HVACR average distributor sales for April 2011 were up just less than a percent from the same month last year, snapping a string of 10 consecutive months with an average 10 percent annual growth rate. HARDI’s Monthly Targeted and Regional Economic News for Distribution Strategies (TRENDS) Report showed uneven results among HARDI’s eight North American regions, with April 2011 to April 2010 growth averages ranging from +8.6 percent to -11.7 percent. Canada led in declines, continuing its sixth month of annual growth rate declines.

Inventory levels were higher than last year for the majority of HARDI distributors, though Days Sales Outstanding continued its third consecutive month of increases.

“The construction markets for commercial and single-unit housing have failed to make substantial gains so far in 2011, and this is no doubt having a negative effect on member sales. After five consecutive months of same-month sales growth vs. last year, sales in April were flat (+0.1 percent on average). It has been traditionally difficult for member sales to improve when the market for new single-family homes is stagnant, but some opportunities for growth can be found in the smaller, but booming, multiunit housing market, up 39 percent from last year and growing,” said HARDI chief economist Alan Beaulieu of the Institute for Trend Research (ITR).

“When we started our TRENDS program three years ago with ITR, we purposely invested in a high level of regionalization precisely for months like this one,” said Talbot Gee, HARDI executive vice president and COO. “Had we only been looking at the national numbers which were basically flat in April, we’d miss the strong turnaround we’re seeing in our Western region and the significant falloff experienced in the Midwest regions.”

Gee continued, “We’re continuing to see a slide in the sale of high-efficiency air conditioning and heat pump unitary products with minimum efficiency units comprising over 70 percent of sales, and this is before the true busy season has really started.” HARDI cites the introduction of dry-shipped R-22 units this year and the significant reduction in the 25C tax credit as the main causes of this trend.

Publication date:06/20/2011