|Manufacturers are becoming more opportunistic. More have submitted "up" forecasts for the coming months.
|Distributors have a less positive outlook than manufacturers.
|Much like distributors, retailers have a more negative perspective.
Part of the new SEMA Financial Benchmarking Program is a question about the company’s expectations about sales for the next three months. Here is a four-month summary of sales projections for each market channel:
Although the benchmarking program is still in the early stage, we are starting to see some interesting trends worth noting and tracking over time.
Going into the summer months, manufacturers have the most optimistic sales outlook in the industry. Twenty-seven percent of manufacturers project sales to increase over last year and 40.7% expect sales to remain the same.
As you can see from the table and graph, the “down” group has decreased significantly since January going from 45% to 31.9%. Subsequently the “flat” responders have increased from 34% to 40.7%. After a drop in March to 19.8%, the “up” segment saw a sharp increase in April to 27.4%.
Based on the analysis of manufacturers’ sales distribution by type of customers, we know roughly half (48%) of their business is to distributors. The data shows, however, that distributors do not have as positive a sales outlook going into summer.
There is anecdotal evidence that distributor and retailer inventory is down, so perhaps manufacturers are basing their projections on needing to “fill the pipeline” for the summer months. They could also be looking to other types of customers to meet their sales projections.
Distributors have a more negative sales outlook for the summer months than either manufacturers or retailers. While more than half (58%) project summer sales to be up or flat, the remaining 42% expect sales to be down over last year.
The data shows a sharp increase in the “down” responses in April, which had held at 34% to 36% from January to March and increased to 42% in April. The percentage of companies projecting sales to be “up” decreased in January, February and March and held the same at 28% in April.
Overall we feel the data seems to reflect the struggle this market channel is currently experiencing.
Overall, 67% of retailers expect summer sales to be up or flat, with the largest percentage (43%) projecting sales to be flat.
Sales projections for the retail channel change more significantly month-to-month than manufacturers and distributors.
The “up” group, for example, increased from 25.56% in January to 31.78% in February and then to 26.8% in March. The “down” responders increased from 25.8% in March to 32.9% in April. We feel the month-to-month changes we are seeing can be attributed to retailers’ direct connection to consumers and their fluctuating behaviors and attitudes based on the current economic environment.
In all three channels, the number of companies projecting “flat” sales jumped significantly in March (for May, June and July sales) and then decreased in April (for June, July, and August sales).
In all three groups, the number of companies projecting both “up” and “down” sales dropped in March. The difference in April was that manufacturers were more optimistic with an increase in “up." Distributors had no change in “up” and retailers were less optimistic and had a decrease in “up.”
Comparison to Industry Index (PADI)
SEMA also has a program to measure the future purchase intentions of consumers for the next three months. It is interesting to compare the trendline for industry companies expecting sales to be up and that of consumers expecting to buy industry products for the next three months.
As you review the following graph, you will notice that all the trendlines have converged in April. You will also see that with the exception of April, the WDs mirror consumer expectations fairly closely. But overall, the retailers seem to follow the consumers in the basic trend.
|SEMA's PADI has proven to be a valid model for consumer spending forecasting. If past performance continues to reflect the market, May should be a positive month.|