Another steep decline in housing starts
Housing starts continue to sink, according to the U.S. Commerce Department, which reported that last month’s total starts fell to an adjusted annual rate of 817,000 units. Compared to August 2008, where the estimated number of total starts has been revised downward to 872,000 units, the decline was 6.3 percent.
Single-family starts in September 2008 fared worst, with 544,000 annual units, a 12 percent drop from August’s rate of 618,000. This is the slowest pace of new home construction since 1982, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Multi-family starts rose 5.8 percent to 254,000 units compared to the previous month, which posted a big decline.
Regionally, the Midwest and South posted gains of 5.6 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively. In the Northeast and West, total housing starts declined by 21 percent and 16.8 percent, respectively.
In year-over-year figures, total housing starts dropped 38.4 percent from September 2007. All four regions of the country showed annual declines exceeding 30 percent, with the West leading at 44.6 percent.
Around the Web: Obama tackles housing market
The Barack Obama administration started a temporary program to boost state and local housing finance agencies (HFAs). The purpose of the program is to spur lending and buying in a depressed housing market.
“Through this initiative, the administration aims to help HFAs jumpstart new lending to borrowers who might not otherwise be served and to better support the financing costs of their current programs,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a prepared statement.
True Value fall market held in Atlanta
When True Value president and CEO Lyle Heidemann addressed co-op members at the opening session of the 2008 fall market Oct. 17 in Atlanta, he stressed the importance of Destination True Value — encouraging retailers to adopt the new, more consumer friendly store format in one form or another.
“Much of our future is centered on Destination True Value, both for our existing stores as well as our growth with new ones,” Heidemann told the group assembled at the Georgia World Congress Center. “This year we will open, expand, relocate, convert or remodel more than 100 stores to the new format. In addition, another 75 stores will implement the DTV decor package.”
The point hit home with show attendees Kurt and Kathie Stringham, owners of Stringham’s True Value in Santaquin, Utah, which will undergo a DTV remodel starting next month. “Our sales are down this quarter, but we’re not pessimistic,” Kathie Stringham said. “I’m not sure about the economy, but for hardware stores, if you’re wise you can still do well.”
Carol Wentworth, vp-marketing, also addressed members at the opening session, trying to drive home the importance of national and local advertising in these tough economic times. She said stores that participated in three spring circular programs saw a 7 percent increase in sales and an average of $45,000 more in revenue during the spring season than stores that didn’t use the promotions.
“I think those numbers tell a pretty compelling story about using circulars to help you get ready for the spring selling season,” Wentworth said.
More than 1,000 vendors are introducing new items and offering market-only deals on merchandise from every major product category. Retailers attending the market will also have an opportunity to attend educational classes on everything from merchandising and marketing best practices to the True Value Rewards program and leveraging point-of-sale technology.
The market is open through Oct. 20.