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Comps hit 8-year high at Home Depot

BY HBSDealer Staff

Home Depot’s first quarter saw comp-store sales of positive 5.8%. That’s the highest since the second quarter of 2004, when the booming housing market helped push the world’s largest home improvement retailer’s same-store sales to 7.7%.

One reason for the eight-year high is the hot-cold treatment — an unusually warm quarter in 2012 followed an unusually frigid one.

Home Depot’s Craig Menear, executive VP merchandising, described a long list of products as double-digit comp generators, including walk-behind mowers, riding mowers, lawn accessories, soils and mulches. “Warmer-than-expected weather allowed customers to complete exterior projects and begin spring projects early,” he said, estimating a 300 basis point boost for U.S. comps due to the weather.

Only two departments failed to generate positive comps in the quarter — plumbing, which was flat, and kitchens, which was slightly negative.

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Now in play: New rules for Southern Pine

BY HBSDealer Staff

Effective June 1, 2012, the Southern Pine Inspection Bureau (SPIB) has issued some new design values for Southern Pine Lumber. The changes will affect only visually graded Southern Pine and Mixed Southern Pine sized 2” to 4” wide and 2” to 4” thick (2x2s through 4x4s) in No.2 and lower grades (No.2, No.3, stud, construction, standard and utility). This also includes new design values for No.2 dense and No.2 nondense Southern Pine. Design values for all other grades and sizes of visually graded Southern Pine remain the same, pending results of testing scheduled for completion later this year.

The last major change for visually graded dimension lumber occurred in 1991 when design values for Southern Pine and other North American species were published based on In-Grade testing of full-size samples of commercially produced lumber. Since 1994, SPIB has conducted an annual resource-monitoring program developed in collaboration with the U.S. Forest Products Laboratory (FPL). SPIB is the first rules-writing agency to publish new design values. Rules-writing agencies responsible for other species are in different stages for evaluating design values.

SPIB and Timber Products conducted destructive tests in bending and tension, plus gathered stiffness and property data, all in accordance with ASTM International standards. Throughout the process, technical review was performed by FPL. The ALSC Board of Review approved the new design values early in 2012, with a recommended effective date of June 1, 2012.

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In the limelight: Orchard Supply

BY HBSDealer Staff

In his company’s first earnings call since its spinoff from Sears, Orchard Supply Hardware CEO Mark Baker introduced his company to analysts as a unique player, operating, at about 44,000 sq. ft., between the big boxes and the small independents. He described his newly public company’s focus on three high-margin categories: repair and maintenance, backyard, and paint. He also explained Orchard Supply was in transition mode — an 80-year-old company turning around several years of negative comps, with upgraded merchandising and stores.

The fourth quarter saw comp-store sales rise 2.3%.

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