Home Depot recognizes Joplin associates at annual meeting
Four Joplin, Mo., associates of a Home Depot store destroyed by a tornado May 22 were flown to Atlanta for the company’s annual shareholders meeting.
CEO Frank Blake introduced Jason Smith, the manager on duty the night of the storm, Joe Barbosa, Joe Cabalero and Steve Cope, the store’s manager. The four men received extended applause as well as Angel Awards, given to associates who help save lives.
Blake also read a letter from a customer who praised the store’s staff for saving the lives of her husband and her two children. The family was driving near the store and ran inside to escape the tornado. "We were met be calm employees the whole time," read the letter.
One employee, Dean Wells, died during the tornado as he made a final sweep of the store to check for customers, Blake said. Cope accepted the Angel Award in Dean’s honor.
"We are committed to the community, and we will rebuild the store," Blake said.
Mixed message seen in retail comps
Top-line retail same-store sales held steady with a 5.7% gain in May, but showed the effects of plans by shoppers to curb spending, according to Kantar Retail.
The sales-weighted composite for the 26 retailers reporting — most of them apparel retailers — was up slightly from the 5.4% gain for the combined March–April period, which eliminates the impact of the Easter calendar shift. The result was down from April’s 8.7% same-store sales gain, which was pumped up by a late Easter. The result was better than the 2.7% gain in May 2010.
The results do not include Walgreens, which reports Friday. The calculations also no longer include Walmart, which stopped reporting monthly results in April 2009.
Apparel stores took the brunt of weaker spending plans; they significantly lagged the overall results. The results were led by the Food, Drug and Mass retailers — particularly Costco and BJ’s, which benefited from higher fuel prices. Department stores held up well, particularly upscale department stores, which benefit from upper-income households less affected by rising prices.
“Spring storms also affected the retail numbers, but there is little doubt that the strongest headwinds slowing sales are from higher prices for food and especially fuel,” said Frank Badillo, senior economist. “Shoppers are stepping up their response as inflation persists, and discretionary purchases from apparel to homegoods are most susceptible in the months ahead.”
Plastic packaging hurt by oil prices
According to an article in the New York Times, Home Depot’s executive VP merchandising Craig Menear is among those encouraging alternatives to expensive plastic packages.
Plastic packaging known as clamshells — the kind that usually require cutting tools to open — are being affected by the price of oil. The article reports Wal-Mart has pledged to reduce its packaging by 5% in the five years ending 2013.
At Home Depot, Menear said most of the Atlanta-based retailers are working on ways to cut costs and waste from packaging, the article reported.
While plastic packaging is unfriendly to the environment, it has been described as an effective deterrent to shoplifting.