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Lawn mowers, by the numbers

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Channel analysis

The year 2010 was a year of double-digit declines for lawn mower sales. Happily, 2011 saw an 8.1% increase, according to consumer research from Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group, though lawn mower sales remain below the 2009 sales of about $3.2 billion. The resurgence is making the biggest impact at warehouse home centers (WHC) and specialty stores, according to the data.

Product attributes

Of all the various and measurable attributes of a lawn mower — either riding mower or walk-behind — nothing is growing faster than the 16-to-21 horsepower riding mower category. This family of engines showed an 8.1 percentage point increase over 2010, growth that came largely at the expense of riding mowers with 22 hp or more.

Demographic analysis

Based on NPD Group’s data, the person most likely to buy a mower meets the following conditions: lives in the South, earns less than $30,000 a year, is aged 18 to 34 years and is male. In fact, the percentage of males has grown in each of the last three years, finishing 2011 at 71.1%.

Purchase motivators

Consumers increasingly are looking for bargains, as the purchase motivator “on sale/special promotion” increased 2.1 percentage points among reasons for purchase of a mower. No other motivator increased more in 2011, and “Price” remains the No. 1 purchase motivator, and growing. “Trusted brand” is ranked second, but it fell the most in 2011, down 4.4 percentage points from 2010.

Methodology: NPD data are based on monthly tracking of more than 30 home improvement-related  categories and 30,000 opt-in consumers.

*2011 data reflect the period January 2011 through December 2011.

**Key: WHC: warehouse home center; MM: mass merchant; DS: department store; SS: specialty store; HS: hardware store

***More than one answer accepted

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A Builders’ Show roundup

BY HBSDealer Staff

Like anyone in business, builders are looking for an edge, looking for efficiencies and looking for ways to keep customers happy. The 2012 International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla., set the stage on all three counts. Here is a sampling of some of the ideas displayed.

Danze shower heads
From Woodridge, Ill.-based Danze Inc., the Danze 200 and the Danze 250 shower heads are equipped with a new shower head configuration that injects air directly into the shower head engine, providing an improved shower experience. The mixing of air and water provides three benefits: It increases water velocity and shower spray intensity, softens the feel of the shower spray by trapping air bubbles, and maintains water temperature. (danze.com)

Allied Moulded Compact Fluorescent Luminaire Fixtures
Allied Moulded Products, Inc., has introduced new energy-saving Compact Fluorescent Luminaire (LH-CFL1) keyless and (LH-CFL2) pull chain light fixtures that are sure to be a hit with homeowners. Designed for quick and easy installation for use in attics, basements, closets and garages, these fixtures use a GU24 base, 13-watt, squat compact fluorescent lamp with a 10,000-hour life. (alliedmoulded.com)

YKK AP StyleGuard Patio Doors
StyleGuard Impact-Resistant Patio Doors are designed for homes built in coastal areas subject to extreme weather conditions, including hurricanes. StyleGuard doors have been tested to ASTM and Miami-Dade protocols to resist impact from windborne debris. Four-point lock and exterior key lock are optional. (ykkap.com)

Hy-Lite DecoGuard
DecoGuard from Hy-Lite is a hurricane impact-resistant decorative glass window, offering protection from weather conditions associated with hurricanes and tropical storms. The 48-in. square designer window starts with a heavy-duty vinyl frame and impact-resistant laminated insulated glass. In addition, DecoGuard features a floral pattern kiln-fired directly onto the glass, black lines and frosted privacy glass. (hy-lite.com)

Weyerhaeuser Edge Gold
Weyerhaeuser has added another feature to its premium Edge Gold flooring panels, enhancing the panels’ resistance to rain and moisture. Down Pore self-draining technology channels water from the panels’ surfaces and drains it off the joists below, which reduces construction delays for contractors during inclement weather. The patent-pending Down Pore technology consists of three specially shaped drainage grooves on one of the narrow ends of each 4-ft. by 8-ft. panel. The unique design resists clogging from sawdust or adhesive, and allows water to drain even if the panels are not properly gapped. (woodbywy.com)

TimberTech Earthwood Evolutions
Earthwood Evolutions offers scratch, stain and fade resistance with warm, natural hardwood style and authentic, variegated color and graining. It is fully protected by a poly shell that features TimberTech’s exclusive HyrdoLock technology, making the plank impervious to the elements and everyday accidents. (timbertech.com)

Azek VAST Pavers
Azek VAST Composite Landscape Pavers are made from up to 95% recycled materials, which helps projects earn LEED certification. VAST composite masonry has the physical strength, durability and natural appearance to replace concrete, according to the company. The pavers weigh 8.2 lbs. per square foot, versus 30 or more lbs. per square foot for concrete permeable pavers. The patented grid system saves contractors time, reducing the amount of labor required for installation. (azek.com)

SimpliciKey
SimpliciKey has unveiled a new mobile Web application for its remote control, keyless deadbolt, which allows homeowners to unlock/lock their home from anywhere with the touch of a button. SimpliciKey offers an encrypted keyfob and a backlit, alphanumeric wireless keypad to accommodate up to 16 user codes. The deadbolt also allows the homeowner to use a traditional key. It requires AA batteries to operate and features a reversible lock system fit for both right- and left-hand doors, a sliding cover and three distinct finishes. (simplicikey.com)

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Starts: After further review

BY Ken Clark

Before the season began, Sports Illustrated predicted the following Super Bowl scenario: Falcons over Chargers.

Alas, the Falcons lost their first playoff game. And the Chargers didn’t even make it out of the regular season.

HCN refers to this sports story for two reasons. First: In its digital form, this article’s reference to “Super Bowl” will score very high in search engine optimization logarithms. Second: The story illustrates how hard it is to look into the future with any degree of accuracy.

Consider housing starts.

Here was the NAHB’s pre-season forecast for 2011 single-family starts: a 21% increase to 575,000 — delivered during a seminar that included the approval of an economist from Freddie Mac. Here was McGraw-Hill Construction’s single-family housing forecast for 2011 — a 25% increase.

It turns out these were the football equivalents of predicting a Colts Super Bowl victory. (Note: The Colts were 2-14.)

Here’s what actually happened: Single-family housing starts declined 9.0% to a record-breaking low of 428,600. The numbers are painfully clear at census.gov.

According to the NAHB’s website, the group’s 2012 forecast is for 17% growth in single-family starts. One has to admire this optimism. But is there a prognosticator with a better track record we can turn to?

The answer is yes. And here’s the background.

Last year when the NAHB offered its optimism, two readers of this column — Byron Potter of Dallas Wholesale Builders Supply and Paul Gabbard of Malone Lumber Do it Best — told us with certainty that 20% gains weren’t going to happen.

We reached out to this prescient duo for their thoughts on 2012.

Potter, who was very close to predicting a total starts increase of 3.4% in 2011, had this to say about 2012: “Our forecast shows that the first half of the year is a steady increase, but the last half of the year retreats. We are hearing reports about forecasts that show 17% to 22% growth — we want to believe that, but our sense is that at YE2012, growth in housing starts will be plus 2%.”

Here’s Gabbard: “I hate to keep sounding like a cynic, but the factors affecting housing (unemployment, foreclosure, low appraisals) still exist.”

During this month’s International Builders’ Show, the NAHB will give its reasons for its double-digit growth forecast. Most likely, they will include pent-up demand, immigration, housing formation and the powerful urge of the nation’s college graduates to move out of their parents’ basements. All strong arguments.

We will listen patiently. We will write down their theories. But we must also consider Potter and Gabbard.

My forecast for 2012? Giants over Patriots.

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