Fastenal Sees Narrow April Sales Growth as Fasteners Far Outperform Safety

The major year-over-year gains and declines reflect a stark contrast in the product demand compared to the early pandemic days.

Fastenal Erfw

This past April marked a full year since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic's impacts on the industrial supply, during which many industrial distributors ramped up and sold far more PPE and jan/san products than they typically do. As demand for those products has eased over the past six months, sales have likewise declined, and it's now showing up in companies' year-over-year reports in the form of major sales declines. But considering the context of the demand situation, it's largely expected.

This was especially relevant in Fastenal's April sales report that the company issued Thursday. Fastenal reported total April sales of $497 million, up only 1.2 percent year-over, with daily sales up by that same amount. That daily growth is far slower than the 7.5 percent it saw in March.

More granularly, Fastenal saw its April daily sales of safety products sink 40.9 percent year-over-year. Safety sales had consistently slowed in recent months, but April was a dramatic decline compared to growth of 3.2 percent in March, 17.6 percent in February and 26.1 percent in January.

Meanwhile, Fastenal's daily sales of fastener products grew a whopping 30.8 percent year-over-year in April, following growth of 14.0 percent in March and declines of 2.1 percent and 0.2 percent in February and January, respectively.

Again, the major growth differences in April largely reflect what the situation was a year earlier, when demand for fastener products sharply declined amid business and construction closures while demand for safety products skyrocketed. Today, the situation is essentially the opposite.

READ MORE: Fastener Distributor Index Slows Considerably in April; Outlook Remains High (published May 5)

Other notable statistics from Fastenal's April report:

  • Daily sales of all other Fastenal product lines (non-fastener or safety) grew 16.0 percent year-over-year, up from 5.5 percent in March and a -2.2 percent decline in February.
  • Geographically, Fastenal's April US daily sales fell 4.3 percent, a reversal of 5.7 percent growth in March. April sales to Canada/Mexico jumped 50.1 percent (18.2 percent in March), while sales to the rest of International grew 26.7 percent (16.6 percent in March).
  • April daily sales to manufacturing customers grew 30.8 percent year-over-year, far above 10.8 percent growth in March and 0.6 percent growth in February. Non-residential construction sales grew 11.9 percent in April, above March's 10.8 percent growth.
  • April daily sales to national account customers fell 5.0 percent year-over-year in April, a reversal of 7.0 percent growth in March. Daily sales to non-national accounts grew 9.0 percent in April, up from 8.0 percent growth in March.
  • 71.0 percent of Fastenal's top 100 national accounts grew in April, compared to 60.0 in March and just 40.0 percent in February.
  • Fastenal ended April with a total headcount of 20,401, down 131 from the end of March and down 5.5 percent year-over-year.
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