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COVID-19 Closures Take Their Toll on Foodservice Equipment and Supplies Sales

If the mandated stay at home orders that permeated the country starting in mid-March ravaged restaurants sales, it was safe to assume the same would apply to sales of foodservice equipment and supplies.

Data from the Manufacturers’ Agents Association for the Foodservice Industry offers a glimpse at how deeply sales dove at the end of the first quarter and what’s to come in the near term.

Sales of foodservice equipment and supplies declined 6.9% in the first quarter of 2020, per the MAFSI Business Barometer. This capped a streak of 40 consecutive quarters of positive equipment and supplies sales. Heading into the first quarter of 2020, reps projected a 2.2% increase in sales. This came after reps reported a 2.4% sales increase for the fourth quarter of 2019.

Unfortunately, reps’ outlook for the second quarter indicates additional struggles. MAFSI members project sales will decline 43.7% in the second quarter of 2020. Looking at projections by region, sales reps project a 62.1% decline in Canada, 44.9% in the Northeast, 37.7% in the Midwest, 39.5% in the West, and 38.4% in the South. For this specific iteration of the MAFSI Business Barometer, the association asked reps to report their April 2020 sales, which showed a 38.8% decline.

From a pipeline perspective, 73.3% of reps report a decline in quoting activity. Only 14% of reps report an increase in quoting activity. Interestingly, 59% of reps report a decline in consultant activity, while 30% report no change in this area.

Just as was the case in the operator community, sales declined across all product segments, with some faring slightly better than others. Tabletop was the product category hit the hardest with a decline of 17.3%, followed by furniture at 13.0%, supplies at 10.4%, and equipment at 4.7%.

Of course, not every product category saw steep sales declines. Looking specifically at the janitorial and sanitation product category, disposables were up 18.0% in first quarter of 2020, riding the wave of the increased emphasis on takeout and delivery. Sales of Jan San related supplies items grew 6.7% and equipment was up 4.6%, per MAFSI.

By region, sales declined by 10.4% in the South, 10.2% in the Northeast, 7.7% in the West, 4.1% in Canada, and 2.8% in the Midwest.