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Home Depot lawn products are golden in Q1

BY Ken Clark

Home Depot’s Craig Menear, executive VP merchandising, shared details and data from a first quarter that saw double-digit comps in certain seasonal product categories.

Overall, Home Depot saw comp-store sales increase 5.8% in the first quarter of strong sales and earnings growth.

A long list of products were described 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.

Double-digit comps in decks were also reported in pressure washers, siding, gutters, portable outdoor power, roofing, exterior paint, windows and fencing.

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

“The core of the store continues to perform,” Menear said. “And we saw positive comps in fasteners, electrical repair, portable power, door locks and pipe and fittings.”

Among the new merchandising initiatives coming to or already on Home Depot shelves are new load center value packs for electronics in the home; Sharkbite dishwasher hook-ups; and new brushless motor technology in power tools from Makita and Milwaukee.

Menear also said the stores are seeing recovery of the pro business. Historically, pro sales account for about 30% of the company’s overall sales.

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Builder confidence back up

BY Ken Clark

Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes reached its highest level since May 2007, reaching a level of 29 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This is a gain of five points from the previous month, which was downwardly revised.

"Builders in many markets are reporting that buyer traffic and sales have picked back up after a pause this April," said Barry Rutenberg, NAHB chairman and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. "It seems we have resumed the gradual upward trend in confidence that started at the beginning of this year, as stabilizing prices and excellent affordability encourage more people to pursue a new-home purchase." 

NAHB chief economist David Crowe said: "While home building still has quite a way to go toward a fully healthy market, the fact that the HMI has returned to trend is an excellent sign that firming home values, improving employment and low mortgage rates are drawing consumers back." However, builder and consumer access to credit, inaccurate appraisals and rising materials prices remain “significant impediments,” Crowe said. 

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 25 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as "good," "fair" or "poor." The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as "high to very high," "average" or "low to very low." Scores from each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number higher than 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

Three out of four regions registered improving builder sentiment in May. This included a six-point gain to 32 in the Northeast and five-point gains to 27 and 28 in the Midwest and South, respectively. The West posted a two-point decline to 29.

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Shoplifting suspect walks into police stakeout

BY HBSDealer Staff

A Bronx, N.Y., man whom police believe was stashing Home Depot merchandise in a garden center trash can — and then fetching it after the store was closed — has been arrested, according to an article on NorthJersey.com.

John Hussain, 49, was already under surveillance by store personnel when he entered a Home Depot store on May 9, put items in a black trash bag and stuffed them in the trash can in the store’s garden center. Hussain had allegedly done the same thing on May 2, returning to the store after it closed, cutting a hole in the bottom of the fence and retrieving the items. Security cameras captured the incident on tape, and police developed a description of the suspect and his car, a black Lexus.

According to authorities, police spotted the black Lexus and the suspect on the evening of May 9 outside the same store. Police set up a stake-out before closing, and at 10:20 the suspect arrived in the Lexus and was later apprehended with a black trash bag containing a Delta faucet valued at $218, police said.

Hussain was charged with possession of burglary tools, shoplifting, and criminal mischief, the latter stemming from damage to the store’s fence. Additional charges from the May 2 burglar were also added.

Hussain was jailed, and bail was set at $25,000. The Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration Department was notified and may place a detainer against Hussain in light of warrants on felonies from New York relating to burglary and theft, authorities said.

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