North American HVACR distributor sales for July 2011 were up 4.9 percent from the same month last year, according to HARDI. However, the numbers represent a decline from last month’s 6.8 percent growth. July marked the fifth out of the last six months in which the annual distributor growth rate declined.

The Heating, Airconditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International published the results in its monthly Targeted and Regional Economic News for Distribution Strategies (TRENDS) report which showed growth in five of seven U.S. regions. Canada had its best month of the year up over 10 percent, a sharp contrast to the U.S. distributor sales average of 4.8 percent.

“The West region has consistently reported weaker sales growth in 2011 than the other HARDI regions. The slower growth in the West is likely due to the relatively higher foreclosure rates and falling home prices that are depressing the housing markets in that area,” said Andrew Duguay, HARDI economist. “Home foreclosure rates in Arizona, California and Nevada are at more than one in every 300 homes, versus the one in 600 homes average for the U.S. We expect the diverse set of housing market dynamics across the U.S and Canada to continue to play a role in future distributor sales this year.”

HARDI Executive Vice President and COO Talbot Gee said that July showed a shift in growth away from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions to the middle of the country.

“Unfortunately, 2011 is shaping up to meet our forecast of modest growth and eroding margins on average, however those who are doing it right are starting to separate farther from the pack,” he said.