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Hardware Show puts spotlight on innovation

BY HBSDEALER Staff

In the tradition of encouraging innovation, The National Hardware Show will give credit where credit is due through a series of awards ceremonies recognizing the best of the best in product design and innovation.

"New products are a vital part of keeping the industry moving forward and they are also a vital part of the offering at the National Hardware Show," says Sonya Ruff Jarvis, vice president of attendee programs for the National Hardware Show, which will be held May 1-3 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. "While it’s always nice to see the industry’s innovators get recognized for their hard work with awards, these kinds of award programs are also a vitally important part of the industry’s channel partners communicating with one another."

New in 2012 will be The Pitch Tank, part of the new Innovation Station area, dedicated to showcasing new home improvement products, ideas and inventions. The Pitch Tank was created to allow everyday entrepreneurs and inventors a chance to give their "pitches," or presentations, to a seasoned team of product development executives and marketers, led by well-known entrepreneur Kevin Harrington, who also appears as one of the "sharks" on TV’s popular "Shark Tank." Select products from the Pitch Tank will be recognized during a special presentation on the NRHA Village Stage.

Other product-related awards programs scheduled to take place at the 2012 National Hardware Show include:

• The NRHA Packaging & Merchandising Awards. This award program, conducted by the North American Retail Hardware Association (NRHA), recognizes the industry’s finest product packaging and merchandising. 

• The Golden Hammer Awards presented by Home Channel News. This year marks the 28th Golden Hammer Awards celebration, recognizing the best of the best in home improvement. The Golden Hammer Awards will also feature a panel discussion: "The Recovery: Is it Real? And what to do about it."

• Hardware Retailing magazine’s Retailers’ Choice Awards will honor exhibitors at the National Hardware Show for their innovation and excellence.

• The 6th Annual Homewares Awards presented by Homeworld Business magazine and the National Hardware Show will recognize homewares product design and innovation. 

• Lawn & Garden and Outdoor Living Innovation Awards will be presented by Casual Living magazine and the National Hardware Show at the NRHA Village Stage.

 

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Building materials help boost U.S. exports

BY HBSDEALER Staff

U.S. containerized exports rose 9.6% in February in year-over-year figures, with the total February volume estimated at 1,014,176 TEUs Strong gains in building materials, paper and paperboard, and refrigerated foods were helped by the depreciation of the U.S. dollar, according to an analysis by The Journal of Commerce/PIERS.

In terms of TEUs, paper and paperboard showed the greatest gains, but building materials grew by 280%  over January 2012.  

"The foreign exchange value of the U.S. dollar against a broad basket of currencies was down on January 31 by 2% over the value of Dec. 30, 2011," said Mario Moreno, economist for The Journal of Commerce/PIERS. "Manufacturing activity in China has been in contraction for four consecutive months, yet U.S. exports of key raw materials such as paper and paperboard and raw cotton increased sharply, suggesting factory output will rebound soon."

Northeast Asia held its position as the top destination for U.S. containerized exports, growing 12% year-over-year, accounting for 45.3% of total export volume. Exports to the Caribbean climbed 49% and shipments to North Europe rebounded at 19%. Mediterranean volumes, however, fell 18%.

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Existing-home sales slip to 4.48 million

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) showed a decline in total existing-home sales for the month of March. 

Sales of existing-homes declined 2.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.48 million in March.

Still, economists from the NAR see signs of a stabilizing market in the figures. 

“The recovery is happening though not at a breakout pace, but we have seen nine consecutive months of year-over-year sales increases,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.  “Existing-home sales are moving up and down in a fairly narrow range that is well above the level of activity during the first half of last year.  With job growth, low interest rates, bargain home prices and an improving economy, the pent-up demand is coming to market and we expect housing to be notably better this year.”

Existing home sales are 5.2% ahead of last year’s pace. 

Yun said the recovery is in the process of settling into a higher level of home sales.  Total housing inventory at the end of March declined 1.3% to 2.37 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 6.3-month supply at the current sales pace, the same as in February.  Listed inventory is 21.8% below a year ago and well below the record of 4.04 million in July 2007.

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $163,800 in March, up 2.5% from March 2011. 

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