HVACR average distributor sales for October 2011 were up 3.4 percent from the same month last year, according to the Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International. The organization also reported that this number was down from the previous month, which saw growth of 5.6 percent.

HARDI officials said October 2011 reversed a seven-month decline in the annual distributor growth rate.

“Inventories are trending slimmer compared to last year for an increasing number of distributors, with 50 percent of companies reporting inventory levels lower than last year, 46 percent reporting inventory levels higher and 4 percent reporting level inventories,” said Andrew Duguay, HARDI economist.

Duguay also reported that November and December 2010 were strong sales months for most HARDI members due to expiring tax credits. With this in mind, the growth rate for upcoming surveys may be lower. However, he said that seeing October 2011 outpace October 2010 is a positive sign for the industry.

“Like much in today’s economy, signals are mixed and our October report is no different,” said Talbot Gee, HARDI executive vice president and COO.  “Margin pressures are certainly intense this year so I’ll be anxious to see our annual profitability survey mid-next year. We still see 2012 as a year for strong growth, but only those right-sized and optimized distributors will grow real profits.”