MAFSI members' feedback indicates the sales pipeline is starting to fill.
Sales of foodservice equipment and supplies increased 2.4 percent for the first quarter of 2013, according to the Manufacturers Agents' Association for the Foodservice Industry's (MAFSI) Business Barometer. While this represented the tenth consecutive quarter of growth, tempering the news was the fact that the increase fell shy of the reps' forecasted level of 3.6 percent.
In addition, MAFSI members have lowered their forecasted growth for the second quarter in 2013 to 3.1 percent.
By product type, supplies' sales increased by 3.9 percent, tabletop by 2.7 percent and equipment by 2.3 percent. Furniture sales shrank by 0.1 percent.
U.S. sales by region were 4.0 percent in the South, 3.6 percent in the Northeast, 2.5 percent in the Midwest and 1.8 percent in the West. Canada posted a 4.7 percent increase in sales.
Despite this muted growth rate, MAFSI members report some signs of life in the industry. For example, 48 percent of reps report they are quoting more, up 4 percent from the previous quarter. And only 21 percent report less quoting activity. Thirty-nine percent of reps report more consultant activity in their territories, up 7 percent from the previous quarter. Only 10 percent report a decline in consultant activity, down 7 percent from the previous quarter.
So what does it all mean? "This means the pipeline is filling," said Michael Posternak, principal at PBAC Reps and the MAFSI member who helped prepare the Barometer. "A positive outlook was in the air at the just-completed NRA Show by all segments of our industry. The best approach is to move forward in a slow and steady manner but be prepared to hit the accelerator."