See the eye-popping numbers from a record-setting December, as well as the total number of deals announced compared to 2020.

“As for December, the holidays naturally make it one of the slowest M&A months of the year, so I’m expecting this month’s deals count to be considerably lower than November’s, but the first half of the month figures to still be pretty active.”

I wrote those words in the introduction to ID‘s November M&A recap, as I legitimately thought deal activity in this market would slow down throughout the second half of December as the holidays took over, many executives would be out of office between Christmas and New Year’s; and the general business practice of not releasing much major company news during the final week of the year.

Man, that turned out to be an all-time bad take.

What happened in December was the exact opposite, with an incredible surge of deals announced throughout the month, including many in its final 11 days.

Almost astonishingly, we tracked and posted 37 M&A deals announced in December — which, as far as I know — is the most I’ve ever seen during my 6+ years with Industrial Distribution. The new record bested the mark of 33 set just three months earlier in September.

There’s likely a combination of reasons for the unprecedented surge in bolt-ons announced last month. Primarily, I chalk it up to these firms wanting to have these deals completed during their fiscal 2021 rather than carry over into a new year. The industrial economy — significantly rebounded from a forgetful 2020 — is churning along with strong growth. Perhaps as well, growth-hungry industrial distributors and suppliers are looking to gain as much market share they can ahead of funds rolling out from the Biden administration’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure deal that was signed into law on Nov. 15.

RELATED: Why Industrial Manufacturing M&A Volume Will Continue to Rise in 2022 (published Dec. 23, 2021)

December culminated a mighty fourth quarter in M&A activity for this market, and a 2021 that was a remarkable rebound from a 2020 that was hamstrung by factory and business closures nationwide. The turnaround came despite an ongoing severe labor crisis, a still-improving global semiconductor shortage and other material shortages causing historically high prices in many markets. Even with those factors, industrial distributors and manufacturers appear to still be highly proactive in spending capital to grow via acquisitions.

All-in-all, we covered news of 233 M&A deals during 2021. That’s a GIANT leap from the 139 we tracked in 2020. Nearly half of 2021’s — 48.7% — were announced during the last four months of the year. These news items include announcements of completed or pending acquisitions impacting distributors relevant to the industrial products space in North America.

Of course, despite our best efforts, there’s always relevant deals announced that either weren’t on our radar, or that weren’t made public — especially amid small, independent distributors and manufacturers. But, this list should provide a good idea of most M&A activity applicable to the industrial supply market.

Starting with December and working backwards, here’s all the deals we covered each month throughout 2021 in reverse chronological order, listed by their announcement date rather than the date they were posted on ID:

DECEMBER – 37

NOVEMBER – 28

OCTOBER – 16

SEPTEMBER – 33

AUGUST – 18

JULY – 20

JUNE – 20

MAY – 11

APRIL – 8

MARCH – 12

FEBRUARY – 16

JANUARY – 14

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