Hand tools, by the numbers
Hand tools, that great infantry of home improvement products, are fighting back. According to consumer research from Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group, year-over-year change in the dollar volume of hand tools rose 9.3% to $1.33 billion.
Based on NPD Group’s data, consumers age 65 and older continue to increase their share of hand tool sales.
Price and convenience are on the minds of consumers when determining where to shop for hand tools. Once inside the store, brand played a larger role in motivating the purchase of a specific item.
Across the product types, shifts in buying habits have been minimal in the 12 months ended January 2012, compared with the previous year. Of the categories below, wrenches show the steadiest growth.
NPD data are based on monthly tracking of more than 30 home improvement-related categories and 30,000 opt-in consumers.
*2012 data reflect the period February 2011 through January 2012.
**Key: WHC: warehouse home center; MM: mass merchant; DS: department store; SS: specialty store; HS: hardware store
*** More than one answer accepted
Big ideas, small packages
1) DeWalt 15 oz. MIG Weld Framing Hammer
The new DeWalt hammer packs a punch. The carefully designed all-steel 15 oz. DWHT51138 model strikes like a 28-oz. hammer, according to DeWalt. The lightweight heavy hitter also has a magnetic nail starter along the head and vibration absorption built into the grip. (dewalt.com)
2) Rockler Silicone Glue Brush
The silicone bristles of the new product are designed to spread glue time and time again. Woodworkers simply riffle the bristles like a deck of cards, and dried glue peels right off. At one end of the reusable glue brush is a 1-in.-wide brush with half-inch deep bristles. On the other end is a paddle-shaped tool to work in dovetail joints, finger joints and mortises. (rockler.com)
3) Hyde Retractable Razor Scraper
A retractable, softgrip glass scraper with built-in storage is ideal for removing coatings, paint and stickers from glass, mirrors or windshields. The rubberized body provides a safe, sure grip as well as comfort. Tucked into the tool is convenient storage for up to five razor blades. (hydetools.com)
4) Sheffield multi-use wire brush set
From Sheffield, a subsidiary of Great Neck Tools, the three-piece multi-use wire brush set includes a 7-in. brass bristle brush for clean soldering points, a 7-in. stainless steel brush to remove rust, and an 8.5-in. brass bristle brush with a built-in scraper. (sheffield-tools.com)
5) Wiss auto-retracting utility knife
Described by the manufacturer as a “revolution in safety,” the knife blade retracts automatically at the end of each cut, snapping the blade back in to the knife handle. A slide forward of the advance button brings the blade back for the next cut. The knife is from Apex Tool Group. (apextoolgroup.com)
6) Stanley screwdriver set
These six screwdrivers are color-coded — blue on the handle means Phillips, red means slotted. The set comes with a “storage rack” — a plastic organizer that mounts easily to a wall or pegboard. The heat-treated alloy steel bars are built to last in lengths of 3 ins., 4 ins. and 5 ins. A four-sided handle is designed for comfort with a slip-resistant textured grip. (stanleytools.com)
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Inspect what you expect
By Joe Szvetitz
Senior management of this multi-store operation was making business decisions, mostly purchases based on information that they believed was accurate. Having been associated with retail loss prevention for about 40 years has given me a good vantage point to see what actually causes loss or shortage/shrink in a retail location and, honestly, it is not hard to recognize. We all know that the three major contributors to loss are: 1) Employee theft (43.7%); 2) Shoplifting (32.6%); and 3) Paperwork errors (12.9%).
(Stats are according to the 2010 National Retail Security Survey.)
For the past six years, our company Risk Management Services Loss Prevention, LLC, has worked specifically in the hardware, lumber and home improvement sector working with retailers, dealers and members of all the different flags carried in the industry, and we have uncovered a common thread to the causes of shrink: failure to inspect what they expect.
Business decision-makers need to rely on others, associates, department managers, buyers, POS reports, etc., to give them solid and truthful information about their operation so they can intelligently spend money on merchandise purchases, staffing and other areas that cost money in an attempt to increase sales activity and, ultimately, their bottom line. It’s called “cost of business.”
The problem develops when the information they get is bad, inaccurate and wrong. As mentioned in the beginning, this particular business kept making significant purchases of a particular high-demand and expensive item that all of the data indicated needed to be made in order to remain competitive and in stock. Unfortunately, local management was faking the numbers just to look good on paper and to not fall out of favor with ownership. The decision-maker was at a distance in the home office and, not wanting to be out of stock, kept on spending significant dollars to make sure the store would not run out.
Understand that in order to run a business, it is absolutely necessary to rely on information generated from your systems and the people you pay to manage them. However, instead of blind faith, we believe that there should be a “trust but verify” attitude in place. Simply put, inspect what you expect.
Example: Have you ever left the store and your employees think you have gone for the day only to return unexpectedly? I bet there were some surprises. Well inspecting what you expect is doing just that. It is taking a few seconds to proof the information.
Some suggestions for decision-makers are:
• Perform unannounced cash counts at your POS stations.
• Randomly do a count of popular merchandise and circle back to quantities on hand, sold and ordered.
• Do an actual audit of who has what level of access to your POS system. This catches many people by surprise because they actually find out that a part-time sales associate actually has management level authorization.
• Routinely change POS access codes.
Joe Szvetitz is managing partner at Risk Management Services Loss Prevention.
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