May 2014 had one less billing day than the prior year, and HARDI noted that the comparison of the two was not a simple task.
“Four of our seven operating regions reported sales growth in the mid-teens or higher last May, said Brian Loftus, HARDI market research and benchmarking analyst. "Those same four reported sales about flat with the prior year. The 4.4 percent growth is close to the 6 percent organic growth for the U.S. reported by Grainger for May.”
He also pointed out that the slow May results follow an even slower April, resulting in the annualized growth of 5.6 after nine months in the 6- to 8-percent range.
According to Andrew Duguay, HARDI senior economist, the slightly subdued growth rates are part of a larger trend of easing consumer spending growth and deflated retail sales, excluding automobile, has reached a business cycle peak as the growth rate has slowed in recent months.
"We expect this trend to continue in the second half of the year as consumers adjust their spending habits according to slightly higher inflation rates and still-mild wage growth," noted Duguay. "This is not alarming territory for distributors at this point and we expect a soft-landing (non-recession) for most pieces of the economy in 2015."
The Days Sales Outstanding (DSO), a measure of how quickly customers pay their bills, declined from the April level. According to HARDI, if DSO continues to decline this would be the third consecutive month when the annual peak occurred in April.
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