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August brings big drop in consumer confidence reading

BY Ken Clark

After an uptick in July, the Consumer Confidence Index issued by The Conference Board fell to 44.5, down from a downwardly revised 59.2 reading in July. 

The August figure is the lowest since April 2009 when the index was 40.8.

"Consumer confidence deteriorated sharply in August, as consumers grew significantly more pessimistic about the short-term outlook," said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "A contributing factor may have been the debt ceiling discussions since the decline in confidence was well underway before the S&P downgrade. Consumers’ assessment of current conditions, on the other hand, posted only a modest decline as employment conditions continue to suppress confidence." 

Consumers claiming business conditions are "bad" increased to 40.6% from 38.7%, while those claiming business conditions are "good" inched up to 13.7% from 13.5%.

More troubling metrics were reported in the measures of the short-term outlook. Those expecting business conditions to improve over the next six months decreased to 11.8% from 17.9%, while those expecting business conditions to worsen surged to 24.6% from 16.1%.

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Green and the real estate market: Signs of success

BY HBSDealer Staff

An article in the Washington Post looked at the findings of the Earth Advantage Institute, which sees an 8% boost to resale values of certified, energy-efficient and sustainable homes.

The study took place between May 2010 and May 2011 in the Pacific Northwest.

The article also reported that during the past two years and in order to keep up with the green movement, the Appraisal Institute has sponsored what it called "green" courses for some 2,300 appraisers. The courses help identify value-adds related to sustainability and energy efficiency.

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Craftsman at Menards just a test, says Sears

BY Brae Canlen

The appearance of Craftsman tools at some Menards stores in the Midwest — which has set off much speculation about channel exclusives for the popular brand — is being used to liquidate discontinued items, a Sears spokesman told the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel.

"Given Menards’ history appealing to the heavy do-it-yourselfers … we felt there is a natural reason to believe that Craftsman would sell effectively at Menards," said Sears Holding Corp. spokesman Larry Costello.

The sale of discontinued SKUs is an experimental program, the article said.

Ace Hardware announced an exclusive merchandising agreement allowing its dealers to sell a limited collection of Craftsman-branded tools in 2010, and the Oak Brook, Ill., buying group has been rolling out the program this year to hundreds of member stores.

News of the Craftsman tools being sold at Menards stores became public this month, and Ace merchants assured their members that the Menards items were overstocked tools and the program was not a permanent one.

On Aug. 23, Scott Freidheim, president of the Craftsman, Kenmore and DieHard brands at Sears Holdings, resigned his position, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Freidheim, who took over the position seven months ago, is leaving on Sept. 2 “to pursue another opportunity,” the SEC filing said.

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