AHMA Industry Confidence Indexes down slightly
The American Hardware Manufacturers Association’s AHMA Home Improvement Industry Confidence Index’s Current Situation Index declined in February to 229.2 from 270.8 in January (October 2008 = 100), while the Future Expectations Index also declined slightly to 246.6 from 250 a month earlier.
In comparing current sales levels with year-ago levels, 55% of respondents said sales were higher in February versus year-ago levels, down from 65% in January. For February, 18% reported sales were even, and 27% said sales were below year-ago levels.
“It is certainly encouraging that most of our members, through good management and aggressive product marketing, are reporting current sales levels above year-ago levels," said Timothy S. Farrell, president and CEO of the AHMA. "However, we continue to be concerned about the prospects for sustainable long-term growth, given the current macro-economic situation wherein unemployment in the country is at 9%, and the federal budget deficit is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to reach $1.5 trillion during 2011.”
Looking forward six months, 70% of February respondents said they expect sales to be above current levels, up from 61% in January. In February, 27% of respondents said they expect sales to be even in six months, and 3% expect sales to be below current levels.
Looking forward one year, 73% of respondents project sales will be higher, down from 84% who felt that way in January. Twenty-seven percent of February respondents project sales will be even one year from now and 0% project sales will be below current levels.
Kent promotes hardware store cycling
Parsippany, N.J.-based bicycle manufacturer Kent International sees momentum in bike sales in the hardware channel. The company now has six styles stocked in Orgill’s distribution system.
In addition to Mintcraft brand men’s and women’s steel frame and aluminum frame cruisers, Kent has men’s and women’s Giordano fitness cruisers in the warehouse, ready for shipment, said Kent’s Ron Lippner, VP sales.
"Every segment of cycling is growing," Lippner told Home Channel News, at the Kent booth on the Orgill Dealer Market floor in Orlando, Fla.
He pointed to a market that supports 18 million bicycle sales per year. Of those 18 million units, Walmart accounts for about 10 million, he said.
In dollar share, bicycle retailing is dominated by Walmart, where the price point tops out at about $150. The pure-play bike shops dominate the high end, where prices kick in at about $300 to $350, he said. Between those two are the sporting good stores. The spot for hardware stores to fit into this picture seems to be between the mass discounter and the sporting goods stores.
"Hardware stores, from my point of view, provide one-on-one relationships with customers, and that’s what bicycling needs," he said.
In addition to the six bikes stocked in the Orgill warehouse, Kent offers several other styles and models.
ACO Hardware diversifies merchandise
According to an article in The Detroit News, Michigan-based hardware chain ACO Hardware is launching a strategy to expand its merchandise mix to resemble a general store.
The company’s president is Dick Snyder, who spent 18 years with Wal-Mart Stores, before joining the 67-store ACO Hardware chain two years ago.
New merchandise will include food, furniture and flannel shirts, according to the article.