Daniel L. Florness
President and Chief Executive Officer at Fastenal
Thank you and good morning everybody and thank you for joining us for today's earnings call. You know, life -- who you choose to surround yourself in life gives you freedom to do a lot of things and to find success with others, and one thing I found on this call is Holden is -- does such a fine job with sharing with the investment community, particularly the sell side analyst community, the trends he is seeing in the business that it affords me the opportunity to be a bit more philosophical and talk to our shareholders but also talk to the employees at best on this call.
I suspect for most people listening to this call, the reason you're looking at our earnings release today and looking at -- in crisping this call, you want to see what bread crumbs might come out of it. As far as where the economy is going, a spoiler alert, we've often said that our visibility to future is about 8 hours and most of it comes from what we're hearing from our customer, the anecdotes that come through, what we're seeing in some of the trends in the business. So we get an indicator and we try to share those as we see them, but we don't have a backlog in a traditional sense. We are just in time supply chain partner to our customers and things time through as they occur.
So here are some things that have occurred in our business. First off, our travel has expanded. If I look at our travel in the year-to-date in 2022 and ignore for a second 2020 and 2021, our travel is about 12% below where it was in 2019. In the second quarter, our travel is about 18% higher than it was in 2019 and that's measured in dollars, and as you know, for those of you those have bought an airplane ticket recently or done any kind of travel, things have not gotten cheaper. So I suspect that means we're probably still down from 2019, but the expenses up because of the inflation inherent in travel today, but what that means is the -- most societies have entered into the endemic stage of COVID-19, not all, and then what that means we're finding our new normal, and I'm pleased to say travel is resuming. And that's one of the ways we engage with our customer.
Our Fastenal culture is one of -- we trust each other. We work every day to build our own talent pool and we promote from within. An integral part of that is the idea of human interaction and our ability to teach and learn from each other every day and it's frankly more efficient when you can have in-person conversations. But we have adapted -- or if you went into a Fastenal branch today versus 2019, you see different branch. You see many locations where we've changed what the front room looks like, you've seen many locations where we either have reduced hours or we don't have an open frontdoor anymore because we've really morphed into more and more of a supply chain partner and more product is going out the back door than ever before, in markets where we have a larger construction presence or we have a meaningful walk-in business and the local team sees that as their means to serve the market, they might be open, but in many markets, we've changed that format and it allows us to find success in an era when it's more difficult to hire and because it's a more efficient labor model in our business. I'm also -- the folks that aren't in a branch or onsite, obviously, folks that work in distribution center or manufacturing division or drive a truck never had the opportunity work remote, but since the first half of 2021, we've been largely in the office working in a different fashion than we did 3 years ago but finding success together.
We were able to better engage with our customer. Some of the stuff we're going to talk about onsite etc were reflection of that. But in April, we held our first-in-person customer expo since 2019. And it was a great event, we had great engagement with the customers that were there. We did have to limit some geographies just from the [indecipherable] to travel and some of the COVID restrictions. But we found really good successful event that we held back in April. Hiring remains challenging, however, our trends and applications received have improved. In fact, if I use 2019 as the benchmark, in 2020, post-COVID starting our applications coming in were down close to 40%. In 2021, our applications using 2019 as a benchmark were down about 36%. In the first 5 months of this year, they're down about 18% from what we saw in 2019 and I'm pleased to say in the last 3 months, applications coming in every month are about 10% below where they were in 2019. I consider that a huge win and a sign that people are more comfortable and ready to get back to work and to build their career and to build their future, and that's just an element of that in our business.
We have effectively managed marketplace disruption. It's made supply chains more expensive than pre-pandemic and elongated and you're seeing that and if you look at our balance sheet, look at our cash flow, first 6 months of this year between a combination of inflation and the fact that it takes longer for product to physically move, we have a deeper supply of inventory and that supply of inventory is more expensive and you're seeing that in our balance sheet. And again, you're seeing that in our cash flow is that inventory is building and turning. We're pleased with the fact that we have the balance sheet to withstand that and we can make that covenant with our customer that we are your supply chain partner and we will serve your needs. We did that before COVID, we did that during COVID and we're doing that today in whatever stage of COVID you care to call this.
Finally, this is earnings release and for the quarter, we grew our sales 18% and our pre-tax profit grew just under 21%. Demand is generally healthy but there were some signs of softening in May and June, and we'll delve into that if you go through this call. Onsites, we signed 102 onsites in the second quarter, we signed 106 in the first quarter. The last time we signed 100-plus in the quarter was back in 2019, I believe, the first quarter. This is the first time we've ever signed 100 plus in 2 consecutive quarters and I think there's a number of things going on there. Again, the marketplace sees value in our Onsite model. In an era where it's more difficult to hire and more difficult to manage supply chain, I believe our Onsite model is even a better option for our customer in the marketplace and I think that's shining through in our signings. Obviously, the fact that we had a customer event in April, while it didn't help the first quarter number, I think it was an element in the second quarter number. And we remain committed to strong signings for second -- for all of 2022 and we see this as a means to take market share faster and heads on whatever the economy might do in the months and years to come.
FMI Technology continued to have industry-leading signing levels, albeit not maybe at the level we'd like, our internal goal is always to get that number to 100 per day. And during the quarter, we were at 86, an improvement from what we saw in the first quarter but not where we'd like it to be, and our aspirations here are very high. And that signs through in our expectations. We did, given where we are year-to-date, adjust our expectations for the year. Previously, we had indicated 23,000 to 25,000 signings. We think that number is more in the neighborhood of 21,000 to 23,000 and that's the machine equivalent unit basis.
E-commerce continues to grow nicely, it rose 53% in the second quarter of 2022 and our large customer oriented EDI was up 53% whereas our web sales were up 51%, and you combine those 2, e-commerce is about 17.1% of sales in the second quarter.
Finally, our digital footprint, we've talked about that in prior calls, it's our ability to manage supply chain more efficiently and illuminate that supply chain for our customers, that move -- that increased and was 47.9% of sales in the second quarter, 48% in the month of June.
With that, I'll turn it over to Holden.