Foodservice Equipment Reports

MAFSI Barometer Rose 4% In First Quarter 2012

It was less than forecast, but the MAFSI Business Barometer, which tracks manufacturers’ reps’ sales trends, was up 4% in the first quarter 2012 versus the prior year’s first quarter. It was the measure’s sixth consecutive quarter of gains following three years of declining sales. The quarterly survey is fielded by the Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry.

The 4% increase was down slightly from a 4.8% uptick in the fourth quarter ’11, but matched the gain in the first quarter last year. The increase was also in line with a 4.9% first-quarter increase for the publicly reporting foodservice equipment and supplies companies. (See article this issue.) The reps’ quarter- versus-quarter year prior sales increases have actually been quite consistent since first moving into positive territory in the fourth quarter ’10. The gains have ranged from a high of 5.7% in the second quarter ’11 to 4% in the first quarter in both ’11 and ’12.

The reps had earlier forecast a 5.2% increase for the first quarter ’12 and still optimistically expect a 6.6% gain for the year as a whole, compared to ’11. Their forecast for the second quarter is for a further slowdown to 3.7%. If that forecast proves accurate, said Michael Posternak, the New York-based rep who provides commentary on the Barometer, “It will take a strong second half for (the 6.6% forecast) to be realized.”

Equipment sales once again led the category gains, up 5% in the quarter. Furnishings sales were actually down 1.9%, as three of the four U.S. regions reported furnishings sales declined and sales were flat in the West. Only Canada saw a gain in furnishings sales. Tabletop sales rose 3.3% while those of durable supplies posted a 2.6% gain.

Overall sales gains were highest in the West, rising 5.7%. Sales were up 4.8% in the South, 3.8% in the Midwest and only 2.6% in the Northeast. Overall sales in Canada, which had been lagging, rose 3.4%. Operator sales and traffic trends have picked up in Canada recently, according to data from The NPD Group and the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association’s new Quarterly Outlook Survey (see article this issue.)

The full MAFSI Business Barometer is available on the group’s website at www.mafsi.org

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