HARDI’s Monthly Targeted and Regional Economic News for Distribution Strategies (TRENDS) report showed growth in six of seven U.S. regions; three of which increased by more than 10 percent.
All eight HARDI regions reported higher inventory levels than were reported in January 2010.
“Distributor sales recovered moderately in January,” said Andrew Duguay, HARDI economist. “On average, sales improved 6.2 percent from last January, but the active results were quite varied, with just over one-third of distributors showing a negative January compared to last year.”
Diverse strategies and inventory positions on R-22 likely played a role in January’s sale disparities in the wake of confusing and delayed regulatory guidance that recently reduced R-22 production and importation by nearly half of last year’s levels. Many distributors also cited the mild weather as a drag on heating sales.
Days sales outstanding (a measure of how quickly customers pay their bills) crept up for the fifth time in six months, crossing the 50-day barrier. Distributor productivity reflected by sales-per-employee backtracked for the seventh consecutive month, down 6 percent from last month and 35 percent from its July 2011 peak.
“We just completed a very optimistic 2012 HVACR market forecast, but I fear uncertainties caused by refrigerant and equipment regulation are stymieing our growth potential,” said Talbot Gee, HARDI executive vice president and COO. “Any questions on what you can buy, stock, and sell will obviously slow sales and marketing efforts, and make business owners lock down when they usually would be expanding and being aggressive.
“Interestingly, we continue to see extremely strong ductless unit sales despite some of these winter headwinds, and continued movement away from mid-level efficiencies to either 13 or 16 SEER.”
HARDI’s 2012 HVACR market and unitary forecast is now available at www.hardinet.org/2012forecast.
Publication date: 03/26/2012