Up and down: AHMA reports mixed Industry Confidence metrics

The American Hardware Manufacturers Association’s AHMA Home Improvement Industry Confidence Index’s Current Situation Index improved in September to 245.8 from 191.7 in August, while the Future Expectations Index fell to 148.3 from 193.1 a month earlier.

In comparing current sales levels with year-ago levels, 59% of respondents said sales were higher in September versus year-ago levels, up from 46% in August. For September, 14% reported sales were even, and 27% said sales were below year-ago levels.

AHMA CEO Timothy Farrell expressed caution: “While it is certainly a positive sign that 59% of our survey respondents reported improving sales in September, we remain cautious about the prospects for future sales given the continuing climate of economic and political uncertainty in the country, which is restraining manufacturers as they plan investments in their businesses going forward.”

Looking forward six months, 36% of September respondents said they expect sales to be above current levels, down from 44% in August. In September, 32% of respondents said they expect sales to be even in six months, and 32% expect sales to be below current levels.

Looking forward one year, 50% of respondents project sales will be higher, down from 68% who felt that way in August. Thirty-six percent of September respondents project sales will be even one year from now, and 14% project sales will be below current levels.

The data collected from the survey produces two Indexes indicating: 1) Current Situation and 2) Future Expectations. Both Indexes use survey data from October 2008 as the base reference point so that October 2008 = 100.

The September Confidence Index survey also included questions designed to capture the political and economic mood of the AHMA members by asking two supplemental questions:

“Do you feel Republicans will win control of the House of Representatives as a result of the upcoming November elections?” and “President Obama has recently hinted that he may make changes to his economic team involving Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner or National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers. Would you approve of such a move?”

To the first question, on the control of the House, 86% responded “Yes,” 9% responded “Not Sure,” and 5% responded “No.”

On the economic team changes, 73% responded “Approve,” 18% responded “Not Sure,” and 9% responded “Disapprove.”

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