W.W. Grainger, Chicago, IL, reported sales for 2003 of $4,667.0 million were essentially flat versus 2002 sales of $4,643.9 million. Net earnings for the year were $227 million, up 7 percent versus $212 million in 2002. Sales in the 2003 fourth quarter were $1,154.4 million, up 3 percent versus the prior year fourth quarter. Net earnings of $62 million were down 1 percent versus $63 million in the 2002 fourth quarter.
U.S. sales for the branch-based distribution business declined 1% in 2003 as compared with 2002. Government account sales were up nearly 11% in 2003, while all other customer segments, including light and heavy manufacturing, were down when compared with 2002. Within these customer segments, sales to national accounts increased approximately 2% over 2002.