Industry Dashboard for March 7, 2011
The national unemployment rate unexpectedly slipped one-tenth of a percentage point to 8.9% in February.
But the big movement among consumer data was in gas prices, up 15 cents to a national average of $3.50 for regular gallon of gas. If gas prices continue to rise, expect consumer confidence to slip from its February reading of 70.4.
On the Home Channel Stock Roundup, eight of the 10 companies tracked showed gains for the month and the year. Beacon Roofing Supply was up 10.3% for the month, and Tractor Supply Co. was up 92.5% for the year.
The Census Bureau will release its monthly Retail Trade Report March 11.
At BMC, it’s first and 10
Here’s the thumbnail sketch of football great Archie Manning’s presentation at the first-ever BMC National Sales meeting in Las Vegas last month: Competition can be fierce. Fate can be cruel. But for those who persevere, there are rewards to reap.
Does it sound like a message for a lumberyard chain fighting through a housing downturn? “It was pitch perfect,” said BMC CEO Peter Alexander. “Plus, Archie stayed on to sign footballs for every participant.”
While Manning, the father of two current NFL quarterbacks, was a highlight of the three-day event, the real victory came from simply bringing Boise, Idaho-based BMC’s far-flung sales team under one roof, Alexander said. BMC has seen more than its fair share of plans, strategies and reorganizations in the last several years — including an emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year. But one thing it had not seen was a national sales meeting.
Until last month.
“Today, we have a clearer organization led by some of the very best, most ethical business leaders in the distribution space,” Alexander said. And while the 75-unit Western pro dealer anticipates flat sales in 2011, the privately held company also expects a profit. Keeping things simple is a key to Alexander’s BMC playbook.
“We have 350 salesman, with one brand, one IT system and one commission program,” Alexander told HCN.
“It’s just blocking and tackling and execution,” he said.
Phasing out the bulb: Still in the dark?
Most people simply aren’t aware of the looming phaseout of most old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs by 2014.
Still, more people say they are excited about the prospect of gaining energy efficiency than worried about the prospect of losing the familiar glow of traditional bulbs.
Those were among the finding of the third annual Osram Sylvania Socket Survey — a consumer survey involving more than 300 homeowners and renters nationwide.
While more than one-third of Americans are aware of the federal phaseout of incandescent light bulbs, the majority of consumers — 63% — are not. Plus, a full 80% are not aware that the 100-watt bulb is scheduled to disappear from store shelves beginning in 2012.
When asked in particular about the elimination of the 100-watt bulb, most planned to switch to a CFL, LED or halogen bulb. Less than one-third (23%) said they would stick with incandescents, but switch to a lower wattage. Only 13% planned to stash away a supply of 100-watt bulbs.
Overall, the public appears to be optimistic toward the changes ahead: 59% of respondents reported that they excited that Americans will soon use more energy-efficient lighting solutions.