For those industrial distributors that saw a 2020 boon from PPE and other safety products sales tied to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was only inevitable that their sales would likely fall year-over-year at some point during 2021.
Fastenal's May sales figures certainly illustrate that.
The Winona, MN-based distributor was one of only a few of Industrial Distribution's 2020 Big 50 List companies that actually saw monthly sales rise year-over-year throughout 2020, largely due to the company's ability to procure and scale its PPE products that saw incredibly high demand last spring. Fastenal rode that PPE momentum into early 2021, but monthly daily sales had slowed recently from a 7.5 percent gain in March to 1.2 percent in April, and at a 3.2 percent decline in May, it appears that the PPE train may be out of steam.
But one shouldn't necessarily extrapolate business performance takeaways from those figures beyond the fact that demand for PPE/safety products has expectedly slowed as mask mandates have been lifted over the vast majority of North America amid dwindling COVID-19 case numbers.
For context, Fastenal's May 2021 daily sales were up 11.1 percent from 2019, with overall sales of $477 million up about 1.0 percent.
More granularly, Fastenal saw its May daily sales of safety products plunge 44.1 percent year-over-year, following a 40.9 percent drop in April. Meanwhile, the company's namesake fastener sales jumped 28.2 percent in May, following a 33.3 percent gain in April, while the company's 'other' sales gained another 12.5 percent in year-over-year sales after improving 16.0 percent in April.
Overall, those figures illustrate a rapid normalizing of Fastenal's product mix toward 2019 levels.
Other notable statistics from Fastenal's May report:
- Geographically, Fastenal's May US daily sales fell 6.1 percent year-over-year, following a 4.3 percent drop in April. May sales to Canada/Mexico jumped 32.1 percent (+50.1 percent in April), while sales to the rest of International fell 23.1 percent (+26.7 percent in April).
- May daily sales to manufacturing customers grew 18.9 percent year-over-year, slower than the 30.8 percent gain in April. Non-residential construction sales grew 4.4 percent in May, slower than April's 11.9 percent.
- May daily sales to national account customers fell 4.0 percent year-over-year in April, following a 5.0 percent decline in April. Daily sales to non-national accounts fell 2.0 percent in May, following a 9.0 percent jump in April.
- 66.0 percent of Fastenal's top 11 national accounts grew in May, compared to 71.0 percent in April and 60.0 percent in March.
- Fastenal ended May with a total headcount of 20,261, down 141 from the end of April and down 3.7 percent year-over-year.