Fastenal's Sales Mix is Slowly Normalizing

The company's safety sales, up 120% year-over-year as recent as May, were down to a less stunning 35% in August.

Fastenal Vending

Fastenal reported its July sales information on Friday, and the numbers further illustrated a continued trajectory — albeit gradual — toward normalcy amid the pandemic’s drastic impacts on industrial distribution end markets.

 In April and May during the height of the pandemic’s impact on industrial supplier’s product mix, Fastenal’s safety products had year-over-year sales gains of 136.3 and 119.7 percent, respectively. In the company’s newest figures, August safety sales grew 35.1 percent. That's still unquestionably very strong, but considerably less than 94.9 percent in June and a tick down from 38.0 percent in July.

At the same time, Fastenal’s namesake faster sales continue to grow, though still down year-over-year. After bottoming out at -22.5 percent in April, that figure moved to -15.3 percent in May, -11.4 percent in June, -7.5 percent in July and -7.3 percent in August.

FastenalThe company’s sales of all other products likewise continue to grow back toward breakeven year-over-year, down 1.9 percent in August after marks of -3.6 and -6.3 percent the previous two months, respectively.

Overall, Fastenal’s August sales of $524 million were down 2.2 percent year-over-year, with daily sales up 2.5 percent. That daily sales figure peaked at 14.8 percent in May, largely powered by surge orders of safety and PPE products before proceeding as up 9.5 percent in June and up 2.6 percent in July.

Other notable metrics:

  • By end market, Fastenal’s sales to manufacturing customers continued to rise in August, though still down 5.0 percent year-over-year. That compares with -5.5 percent in July and -8.2 percent in June. Meanwhile, sales to non-residential construction have gone from -5.5 percent in June to -9.6 percent in July and -13.5 percent in August.
  • Geographically, Fastenal’s August US sales growth was 1.9 percent year-over-year, compared to 2.2 percent in July, 10.5 percent in June and 14.4 percent in May. Sales to Canada/Mexico, which bottomed out at -19.7 percent in April, jumped to -2.4 percent in May and have continued to gradually improve since, moving into positive territory in August at 3.8 percent growth. Meanwhile, non-North America sales were up 15.0 percent year-over-year in August, compared to 27.3 percent in July, 20.6 percent in June and 98.3 percent in May.
  • Fastenal ended August with a total headcount of 20,280 employees, down 7.5 percent year-over-year and down 8.7 percent from a recent peak of 22,203 at the end of February.

Overall, the numbers illustrate that selling conditions, at least for Fastenal, appear to be returning to a sense of normalcy, though it will likely still be at least a couple months before those percentages more closely resemble what they were in January before the pandemic hit Asia in earnest, when the company was consistently growing fastener sales in the low single digits and all other products in the low to mid-single digits. Fastenal’s safety sales should remain considerably elevated through the remainder of 2020.

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