Sales among HARDI members during March declined 6.9 percent compared to year-ago levels, the association reported.

The decline was not completely unexpected, HARDI said, since March 2012 sales were unusually high. And it was the first drop this year: Sales in January and February were up 19. 4 percent and 8.4 percent, respectively.

The growth rate for 2013 now sits at 4.8 percent.

“Our members may not be thrilled with the absolute performance numbers reported this month, but the early reviews of the additional insight into the performance of the controls, HVAC and refrigeration segment activity are very positive,” said Talbot Gee, the Heating, Air-conditioning & Refrigeration Distributors International’s executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Weather may be partly to blame for the sales drop, said Andrew Duguay, a senior economist at ITR Economics, which compiled the data.

“An unseasonably cool weather-related anomaly is a likely contributing factor,” he said. “The pace of growth this year may have eased. HARDI members are still in the growth phase of the business cycle.  The expansion in home improvement spending and new construction bodes well for members in the months ahead.”