Consumer Confidence at a three-year high
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index improved to a reading of 70.4, up from 64.8 in January.
The February reading is at a three-year high — the highest since February 2008, when the index was at 76.4.
"Consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions has improved moderately, but still remains rather weak," said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center. "Looking ahead, consumers are more positive about the economy and their income prospects, but feel somewhat mixed about employment conditions.”
The Present Situation Index improved to 33.4 from 31.1. The Expectations Index increased to 95.1 from 87.3 last month.
Consumers were mixed about the job market. Those expecting more jobs in the months ahead edged down to 19.8% from 20.8%, however, those anticipating fewer jobs decreased to 15.4% from 21.2%. The proportion of consumers expecting an increase in their incomes rose to 17.3% from 15.3%.
This month’s data is the first to be collected by The Nielsen Company, which bases the index on a probability-design random sample. The cutoff date for February’s preliminary results was February 10, 2011.
Industry Dashboard for Feb. 22, 2011
On a month-to-month basis, total housing starts moved the needle 14% in January, but single-family starts continue to drag.
Elsewhere on the Industry Dashboard for Feb. 22, retail sales for home centers, pro dealers and hardware stores showed a surge in December 2010, compared with the same month in 2009. And stocks on the Home Channel Stock Roundup showed gains across the board relative to both last month and last year.
Tractor Supply, Weyerhaeuser and Newell-Rubbermaid lead the year-over-year charge, with Tractor Supply showing a 100% increase in share value.
Home Depot reports $68 billion in 2010 sales
The Home Depot achieved its first year-over-year sales improvement since 2006, thanks partly to an "improving economy," according to CEO Frank Blake.
The Atlanta-based company posted 2010 sales of $68.0 billion, up 2.8% from 2009. Comparable-store sales for the company increased 2.9%. And in a difficult but improving economy, the world’s largest home improvement retailer earned $3.3 billion, compared with consolidated net earnings of $2.7 billion in 2009.
"In 2010, we continued to invest in our business and made solid progress against our key initiatives," said Frank Blake, chairman and CEO. "We completed the rollout of our Rapid Deployment Centers, an important part of our distribution network; we saw year-over-year improvement in customer service ratings; and we continued progress on our merchandising transformation. Our actions, coupled with an improving economy, resulted in positive sales growth for the year, the first time since 2006.”
In the fourth quarter, The Home Depot sales increased 3.8% to $15.1 billion, as comparable-store sales were positive 3.9%. Comp-store sales for stores in the United States were up 4.8%.
Net earnings from continuing operations for the fourth quarter were $587 million, compared with net earnings from continuing operations of $301 million in the prior-year quarter.
Looking ahead, the company expects sales to increase about 2.5% in 2011. It also expects to add 10 new stores and invest $1.35 billion on capital spending.
At the end of the fourth quarter, Home Depot operated a total of 2,248 retail stores — 1,976 stores in the United States, 179 in Canada, 85 in Mexico and eight stores in China. Last year, the company operated 2,244 stores at the end of the fourth quarter.