The 18.3% drop from October 2008 to January 2009 represents the immediate impact of the economy on our business. During this time frame, our daily sales change, on a year-over-year basis, dropped from 11.9% growth in October to a contraction of 8.5% in January. After January, the trend continued downward as the 'Delta' (or spread between the benchmark and the 2009 actual) in February, March, and April 2009 averaged a negative 4.9%. The daily sales contraction, on a year-over-year basis, was 21.0% in April. The 'Delta' from May 2009 to July 2009 was not as significant, averaging a negative 1.0%. While this period was still painful, it began to show what we believe was the bottom of the drop. Finally, in the period from August 2009 to December 2009, the 'Delta' improved, and averaged a positive 0.7%. During 2010, sales have been strong - our business exceeded the trend line in January, February took a step back due to inclement weather, and March reestablished the trend of being at or above the trend line (see graph below).
A graph of the sequential daily sales change pattern discussed above, starting with a base of '100' in the previous October and ending with the next October, would be as follows: http://media.globenewswire.com/cache/11647/file/8940.pdf
Fluctuations in end market business –The sequential trends noted above were directly linked to fluctuations in our end markets. To place this in perspective – approximately 50% of our business has historically been with customers engaged in some type of manufacturing. The daily sales to these customers grew, on an annual basis, approximately 15.7%, 29.8%, and 30.6% in the first, second, and third quarters of 2010, respectively. In the first, second, third, and fourth quarters of 2009, the daily sales of this business contracted 16.0%, 25.2%, 22.8%, and 10.1%, respectively. For the year, our total sales to our manufacturing customers contracted 18.8% from 2008 to 2009. The 2009 contraction was more severe in our industrial production business (this is business where we supply products that become part of the finished goods produced by our customers) and less severe in the maintenance portion of our manufacturing business (this is business where we supply products that maintain the facility or the equipment of our customers engaged in manufacturing).Our non-residential construction customers have historically represented 20% to 25% of our business. The daily sales of this business contracted approximately 14.7% in the first quarter of 2010 and then grew 0.5% and 6.3% in the second and third quarters of 2010, respectively. In the first, second, third, and fourth quarters of 2009, the contraction was 6.4%, 19.6%, 25.3%, and 24.8%, respectively. For the year, our total sales to our non-residential construction customers contracted 19.4% from 2008 to 2009.