Home Depot's top merchant points to Q4 winners

Home Depot's Northern division, which bore the brunt of Superstorm Sandy late last year, saw comp-store generator sales up in the triple digits.

Storm-related sales were one of the reasons Home Depot's fourth-quarter sales exceeded internal company expectations. Across the country, the departments that outperformed the company’s average comp for the fourth quarter were tools, lumber, electrical, outdoor garden, lighting, indoor garden and decor.

"We expect the impact of Sandy to continue at least through the first half of the year," said Craig Menear, the retailer's executive VP merchandising.

Flooring, kitchens, bath, plumbing, hardware, paint and millwork performed positively in the fourth quarter, Menear said. And although comp sales in building materials were negative, they exceeded expectations, he said. 

"Across all U.S. divisions, the core of the store continues to maintain momentum with positive performance in our plumbing, hardware and paint departments and across maintenance and repair categories in spray paint, lubricants, light bulbs, chemicals, pipe and fittings, tape, plumbing repair and fasteners," Menear said, during the company's fourth-quarter earnings call.

Driven by generators and appliances, the company's transactions for tickets over $900 were up 9.0%, he said. These transactions represent about 20% of the company's U.S. sales.

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