February was a good month for HARDI members, with average member distributor sales up 9.6 percent.

The figure is from the Heating, Air-conditioning and Refrigeration Distributors International’s monthly Targeted and Regional Economic News for Distribution Strategies report, which showed growth in all seven U.S. regions. Three posted double-digit gains.

This is good news, said association economist Andrew Duguay.

“Inventories are still elevated,” Duguay said. “Just over two-thirds of distributors reported higher inventories than last year. This is likely causing the sharp contrast with HVACR new orders from Census Bureau data and the less-than-stellar shipment numbers recently reported by AHRI (Air-conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute).”

Canadian distributors have not fared as well. While February showed some growth, January sales still declined and annual growth is not yet positive, the report said.

HARDI Executive Vice President and COO Talbot Gee said they are expecting continued momentum among U.S. members for the rest of the year.

“Our economists’ bullish forecasts for 2012 are off to a great start thus far and serving as another reminder that shipment data is not the best leading indicator for industry sales,” Gee said. “Discussions with distributors across the U.S. are carrying a consistent theme of aggressive inventory positions so that no sales are lost as the market continues to strengthen this year.”