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American Supply Association (ASA) member distributors reported an average sales growth of 2.5% and a median sales growth of 4.1% for the third quarter.
Respondents to ASA's quarterly Pulse report survey reported a median 1% growth in calendar year-to-date sales as of Sept. 30, 2020 vs. 2019. Half the respondents reported changes between -3.9% to +5% for year-to-date sales as of Sept. 30, 2020 vs. 2019.
For the trailing 12 months, respondents reported median sales growth of 1%. Twenty-five percent of respondents reported sales declines of more than -2% for the third quarter of 2020 vs. 2019.
Inventory levels rose 2% for the third quarter of 2020 vs. Q3 2019. The median three-month average days sales outstanding dropped to 41 days in the third quarter. ASA business intelligence partner Industry Insights, which prepares the quarterly Pulse report for ASA, notes the DSO number is encouraging to see because of concern in Q2 that receivables were starting to increase.
More than two-thirds of respondents report flat or increasing gross-margin percentages for the third quarter 2020 vs. Q3 in 2019. Nearly half the respondents (49%) reported a company year-to-date profit before tax increase compared to last year vs. 39% reporting a decline.
Staffing levels are fairly mixed, Industry Insights notes, with a nearly equal split of 39% reporting having more full-time-equivalent employees vs. a year ago, 25% about the same and 32% reporting staffing levels as down vs. a year ago.
In the industrial pipe, valves and fittings sector, respondents reported an average sales decline of -3.6% for Q3 of 2020 and a median sales decline of -0.6%. Calendar-year-to-date, PVF distributors reported an average sales decline of -5.9% for Q3 2020 compared to the same timeframe in 2019, and a median sales decline of -0.7% YTD. Looking at the trailing 12 months, PVF distributors reported an average sales decrease of -8.2% and a median sales decline of -5%. Average inventory levels dropped -1.2% for the third quarter of 2020 vs. Q3 2019, while the average DSO for PVF distributors was at 48.6 days.
In terms of gross margin percentage for the third quarter of 2020 compared to the same timeframe a year ago, 50% of PVF distributor respondents reported an increase, while 33.3% reported a decrease.