Growth Slowed For MAFSI Reps In Third Quarter, 2017 Forecast Is 4.4%
After a remarkable six-quarter run during which the MAFSI Business Barometer increased an average 4.9% per quarter, the growth rate slowed in the third quarter to 3.6% versus the same quarter last year. Other indicators, including those tracking quotation and consultant activity, also slowed though they remain in very positive territory.
Still, the reps remain quite positive about 2017. While they forecast another 3.6% increase for the fourth quarter 2016, they are expecting 4.4% growth in sales of like lines next year. This is only slightly slower than the 4.5% increase they forecast for 2016. The Business Barometer is maintained by the Manufacturers’ Agents Association of the Foodservice Industry.
The third-quarter slowdown in sales growth was apparent across the product categories and the regions. Equipment sales rose 3.9% (vs. 5.1% 2Q/16), sales of durable supplies rose 3.2%, tabletop sales growth fell to 2.6% (vs. 5% 2Q/16) and sales of furnishings were up 3.2%. Among the regions, sales growth was strongest in the Northeast at 4.3%, was up 4% in the South, 3.9% in the West and 3.5% in the Midwest. Growth in Canada was only 1.2%.
The positive difference between reps reporting more quotation activity and those reporting less fell to 24 in the third-quarter survey. On the consultant side, the positive difference between more and less activity was down to 23. Both figures are the smallest positive gaps since MAFSI began tracking such activity in the second quarter 2014. Still, only 21% of reps reported less quotation activity in the third quarter and only 14% said they were seeing less consultant activity. And that suggests another strong year of growth in the spec markets in 2017.