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Finally, a streak comes to an end

BY HBSDEALER Staff

It was almost painful to watch. Quarter after quarter of negative comparable-store-sales figures emanating from Atlanta and Mooresville in a period of negativity that extended for more than three years.

The negative-comps streak officially ended last month, when the two biggest players in home improvement retailing both posted positive comps for the first time since late 2005 (See chart). The reversal is clearly good news not only for Home Depot and Lowe’s, but also for the home improvement industry in general.

According to Lowe’s president Larry Stone, the first quarter of 2010 produced other positive signals. “We saw signs consumers are increasingly willing to spend on big ticket products,” he said, pointing to 1% comps for tickets greater than $500.

At Home Depot, 37 out of the top 40 U.S. markets comped positively in the first quarter. All departments posted positive comps, with the highest performances in the garden, lumber, paint, electrical and lighting aisles, said executive VP Craig Menear.

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Strong Q1 sales for kitchen electrics

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Sales of small kitchen appliances are on the rebound, with gains of 10% in the first quarter of 2010 compared with last year, according to the NPD Group. Unit sales were up by nearly 6%, continuing an upward trend in the category that began in the last quarter of 2009.

Products like electric grills and griddles, food processors, coffee/espresso makers, deep fryers, electric skillets and slow cookers generated double-digit dollar and unit growth in the 12 months ending March 2010, compared with the same time in 2009, the market research group reported.

“Consumers are continuing their cost-cutting ways by spending more time at home and cooking more,” said Peter Goldman, president of NPD’s home division. “Alternatively, there is an increased demand for more premium-priced products such as single-serve coffeemakers, stand mixers and juice extractors.”

Housewares are also showing signs of recovery, but have been less resilient to the consumer pullback than the kitchen electrics category, according to the NPD Group. While sales are not back to the levels where they were two years ago, the trend is beginning to stabilize. In the first quarter of this year, total kitchen housewares grew 5% in dollars spent, versus the first quarter of 2009. Categories such as bakeware, cookware and cutlery all generated strong dollar growth in this quarter. Tabletop sales such as casual dinnerware and beverageware also began to move in a positive direction.

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John Deere to relocate Charlotte employees

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Approximately 90 employees from the John Deere Southeast engineering center in Charlotte, N.C., will relocate to Cary in October, according to the Charlotte Business Journal.

An unspecified number of positions will be eliminated, and the facility is due to be closed some time in 2011, according to the article.

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