Foodservice Equipment Reports

Surprisingly, MAFSI Barometer Rose In Third Quarter

The MAFSI Business Barometer unexpectedly improved in the third quarter, as overall sales for manufacturers’ reps climbed to 4.3% in the quarter versus sales in the same quarter last year. The number beat advances of 4% in the first quarter and 3.6% in the second quarter and was the best performance since a 4.7% gain in quarter four of 2011. The number surprised Michael Posternak, a principal at rep firm PBAC, who analyzes the data for MAFSI. When we discussed preliminary numbers with him at the New York Hotel Show in mid-November, it appeared sales would show the same slowing pace the seven publicly reporting E&S companies reported for the third quarter. Total revenues for the seven were flat, the worst performance since the first quarter ’10. (See previous article here.)   

Several worrisome trends became apparent during the survey. The percentage of reps who report they are quoting more fell to 39%, the lowest level in two years. And only 25% report increased activity among consultants. As a result, the reporting reps do expect the market to slow in the fourth quarter. Their forecast for sales gains compared to 4Q/’11 is 3.8%.

Among the product categories, equipment sales in the third quarter were up 4.7%, supplies sales rose 3.9%, tabletop products gained 3.7% and furnishings sales rose 1.5%, the best showing in four quarters.

Sales in the Northeast, up 6.3%, drove the overall gains. Sales in all other regions were substantially slower with the West seeing a 4.2% gain, the South 4%; sales were 3.8% higher in the Midwest and a sluggish 3.6% in Canada.

The complete MAFSI Barometer, including forecast and product category details by region, can be found at mafsi.org.     

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