HD's Menear points to merchandise highlights

Atlanta-based Home Depot's wind-and-storm aided sales effort in the third quarter presented several category highlights, according to executive VP merchandising Craig Menear.

The company's strong third-quarter performance, which included a 13% net earnings increase and comp-store sales of positive 4.2%, included strength "in the core of the store" and growth in average ticket and transactions.

"The maintenance and repair categories that make up the core of our store continue to perform well," Menear said, during the company's third-quarter earnings call. "Project basics such as pipes and fittings, fasteners, air circulation, hand tools, chemicals, caulks and appliance parts were positive. And, as customers prepared for winter, small maintenance projects like insulation and waterproofing also sold well."

In addition to storm-related sales strength, the company saw higher-than-company-average comps in tools, electrical, indoor garden, building materials, plumbing and hardware. 

Ten departments in all posted positive comps, with paint, flooring, lighting and kitchens rounding out the list. 

Negative comps for the third quarter occurred in the following categories: lumber, outdoor garden, bath and millwork. 

Brands and product innovation played a role in sales growth, he said. " We offered outstanding values in power tools from brands like Ryobi, Milwaukee, Makita, Ridgid and DeWalt, and we are seeing consistent response to these brands from our customers," he said.  Pro customers are responding well to exclusive-to-Home Depot hand tools from Milwaukee and DeWalt, he added

LED lighting continues to advance on the shelves, with the first commercially available 75-watt equivalent LED A-Line replacement, he said.

The Home Depot's chief merchant also shared the following third-quarter trends with investors:

• Total transactions grew by 1.2%;

• Average ticket increased 3.0%;

• Transactions for tickets under $50 -- about 20% of the company's U.S. sales -- were flat in the quarter; and

• Transactions for tickets more than $900 -- also representing some 20% of U.S. sales -- were up 3.6% in the quarter.

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