Sales for HARDI distributor members declined by 2.8 percent in December, according to the monthly TRENDS report. The average annualized growth for the 12 months through December 2017 was 5.3 percent.
“December is not a seasonally significant month. The decline is associated with very strong prior year sales and one less billing day this year. That is difficult to overcome,” said HARDI Market Research & Benchmarking Analyst Brian Loftus. “5.3 percent growth is the slowest calendar year since 2011 and recovering from the recession.”
“This is somewhat at odds with the other strong signs we see like the positive slope to the leading indicators,” said HARDI Senior Economist Connor Lokar. “HARDI members did post strong growth in November and December 2016 and January 2017 so they set themselves up with some tall bars to clear. The decelerating growth is a noteworthy trend to watch.”
The Days Sales Outstanding (DSO), a measure of how quickly customers pay their bills, is near 45 days. “The DSO is at the midpoint of recent performance for this time of year,” said Loftus. “Softer sales helped the dip from last month. We would welcome an extra day or two in the months ahead because it would be normal seasonal pattern and indicate resumption of sales growth.”