Changes in the light bulb aisle
Government mandates will raise prices on light bulbs in the near term, but “they should be going down as production increases,” said Houston Bowlin, House-Hasson product manager for lighting.
“We’re heading into an era of compact fluorescent lights (CFL); halogen, and light emitting diode (LED) lighting,” Bowlin said. “They’re supposed to be long lasting but they haven’t yet been around as long as they’re supposed to last, so time will reveal the accuracy of those estimates.
“On the plus side, the newer bulbs are brighter, the light’s clearer, the output is better, and there’s no heat. But anything you break is going to be expensive to replace.”
The standard 40-watt incandescent bulb will continue to be produced, as well as several other types of bulbs, but if sales of those bulbs increase dramatically the law allows for those exemptions to be withdrawn and production made to cease, Bowlin said.
“With the banned incandescent bulbs there is no ‘cannot sell after’ date, so stores can put them on the shelves until they’re gone,” he said.
Don Hasson said that end users with questions have a great resource in the hardware store and lumberyard dealers.
“They’re professionals,” he said, “and we know how hard they’re working, and how hard we’re working with them, to try to make sure their customers have the information they need.”
House-Hasson Hardware is a privately owned hardware distributor headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn., with about $200 million in annual sales.
House-Hasson reacts to new plumbing laws
The Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act is forcing changes in the store aisles.
Major changes are bearing down on plumbers and consumers as plumbing fixtures will soon have to meet new government-mandated environmental requirements, say product managers with House-Hasson Hardware.
House-Hasson, the Knoxville, Tenn.-based regional hardware distributor, is working with its 2,000 hardware store and lumberyard dealers to make sure that they — and their customers — are ready for the new products mandated under the law, the company said.
“We’ve been communicating continuously on these subjects with our dealers and vendors,” said Don Hasson, president of House-Hasson Hardware. “Everyone’s life is going to be altered in some way. We’re making sure our dealers have the information they need to make it a smooth transition for their customers’ benefit.”
The Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act, signed into law in January 2011, requires a weighted average of no more than 0.25% lead on wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures. The law alters just about everything that touches potable water, said Steve Rudd, House-Hasson plumbing product manager.
“Plumbing products made of brass and any products with brass components have a certain amount of lead that goes into them,” said Rudd.
The changeover to the different type of brass means that “factories had to make a tremendous investment in new equipment,” Rudd said. “It takes a much harder metal to make threads (to join plumbing components) than in the past, and tolerances for plumbing fittings are very strict. As a result, production isn’t as fast and it’s more expensive.
“Also, each product has to meet codes from the federal down to county level.”
There are some 900 plumbing-related brass fitting line items in the House-Hasson inventory that can’t be sold after Jan. 4, 2014, Rudd said, adding: “They’re selling very quickly right now.”
These brass facts are changing faucets as well. Beginning Jan. 4, 2014, faucets containing lead cannot be sold, which means faucets are being converted to plastic or a hybrid containing no lead, Rudd said.
NRF asks judge to act on swipe fees
The National Retail Federation today asked a federal judge to “right or reject” a proposed settlement of an antitrust lawsuit over credit card swipe fees, saying the measure needs to be rewritten to do more to bring the soaring fees under control and that retailers who don’t support it should be allowed to completely opt out.
“The proposed settlement is next to worthless,” NRF Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mallory Duncan said. “It does nothing to reduce swipe fees or keep them from rising in the future, it offers retailers pennies on the dollar for the damage that has already been done, and it tries to tie merchants’ hands from ever suing again. This is actually worse than no settlement at all because it further entrenches the monopoly held by the card companies.”
“This proposal has not been agreed to by the retail industry by any stretch of the imagination,” Duncan said. “Thousands of retailers have flatly rejected the settlement, including many of the nation’s best-known brands. This is a backroom deal being pushed by the card industry and trial lawyers more concerned about their fees than protecting retailers or consumers.”
Attorneys representing NRF are scheduled to appear before U.S. District Court Judge John Gleeson in Brooklyn, N.Y., today for a hearing on final approval of the settlement. NRF argued in a brief filed this spring that the proposal “gives the credit card networks carte blanche to set and manipulate interchange rates” while giving retailers nothing in return.
Close to 8,000 merchants, representing at least 25 percent of Visa and MasterCard volume, have opted out of the $7.25 billion originally offered by the settlement. But the unusual structure of the proposal blocks them from opting out of other terms and conditions, including a ban on future lawsuits over the issue. NRF attorney Andrew Celli argued that retailers should instead be given the ability to fully opt out of the settlement.