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Menards pulls back again, citing economy

BY Brae Canlen

Home improvement retailer Menards is postponing its plans to enter the Kansas City market over concerns that “economic conditions will worsen,” according to an article in The Kansas City Star.

Company spokesman Jeff Abbott told the newspaper the Eau Claire, Wis.-based company will not be building planned units in Belton, Mo.; Kansas City Northland and Overland Park, Kan. 

In a statement, Abbott said: “We are postponing building these stores. The concern we have is that economic conditions will worsen and that the federal government will impose more and more restrictions on business going forward, which is very discouraging. If one or both of these things happen, investing in new stores is foolhardy. Hopefully we’re wrong. If and when economic conditions improve, and if we survive the fiscal cliff and all that, we hope to be able to reconsider.”

Last week, Abbott told the newspaper that Menards was postponing plans for an Independence, Mo., store, as well as another one planned for the St. Louis area. He also told KMOV, a Missouri television station, that the retailer decided not to open a store in O’Fallon, Mo., because of President Barack Obama’s economic policies.

"We are on schedule to open our new stores in O’Fallon, Ill., and St. Peters, Mo., this spring 2013," Abbott said in the TV interview. "For O’Fallon, Mo., I’m very sorry, but we are a family-owned business, and with the Obama administration scaring the dickens out of all small businesses in the USA at present, we have decided not to risk expansion until things are more settled.”

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Existing-home sales pick up the pace

BY Ken Clark

Data from the National Association of Realtors show existing-home sales rose 5.9% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.04 million — the highest rate since November 2009.

The rate shows an increase over the downwardly revised pace of 4.76 million in October. The November rate is also 14.5% higher than the 4.40 million-unit pace set in November 2011.

"Momentum continues to build in the housing market from growing jobs and a bursting out of household formation," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "With lower rental vacancy rates and rising rents, combined with still historically favorable affordability conditions, more people are buying homes. Areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy show storm-related disruptions, but overall activity in the Northeast is up, offset by gains in unaffected areas." 

The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $180,600 in November, up 10.1% from November 2011. This is the ninth consecutive monthly year-over-year price gain, which last occurred from September 2005 to May 2006.

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Home Depot selects a high-tech pricing tool

BY Ken Clark

Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Clear Demand announced that The Home Depot has licensed its latest pricing solution. 

According to the technology vendor, Clear Demand was selected for its ability to manage prices via sophisticated rules while providing Home Depot with an agile delivery model.

"Our commitment to creating an interconnected customer experience requires that we align ourselves with nimble innovators who can meet our evolving solution needs," said Hal Lawton, senior VP and president of online for The Home Depot. "This commitment also requires that we take small well-defined steps, communicate clearly across our merchant organization, provide tools that fit with the way our merchants work and get data to the point of decision quickly." 

According to Clear Demand, the product includes an "Intelligent Rules Engine" that reverses engineers existing business rules for rapid setup and identifies inconsistencies in pricing strategy; "Force Diagram Technology" that reveals pricing forces on current and recommended prices for related items, for explaining price moves; and "Multi-Channel Competitive Rules," a solution to fully integrate traditional and online competitive pricing intelligence.

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