Monthly sales slip in May, says Census Bureau
Across the U.S. retail spectrum, sales slipped in May, according to data released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. U.S. retail and food services sales for May, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $404.6 billion, a decrease of 0.2%
The bureau’s estimates, however, are up 5.3% compared with May 2011.
Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers, the broad 444 NAICS category that includes home centers, lumberyards and hardware stores, showed the same pattern — down from the previous month (-1.7%), but up from the same month a year ago (5.3%).
Consumers appear to be “taking a breath,” said National Retail Federation president and CEO Matthew Shay. “Going forward, retailers will make sure to keep a steady eye on key economic indicators, being cautious with inventory and promotions as back to school — the second biggest time of the year — approaches.”
At Scotts, sales lower than expected
Marysville, Ohio-based Scotts Miracle-Gro has released a financial update for fiscal 2012 to “reflect the pressures driven by lower-than-expected sales and unfavorable product mix,” according to a company press release.
Consumer purchases of its products at its largest retail partners in the United States are up 3% on a year-to-date basis, compared with 8% entering May. The company expects to fall short of its previous guidance of 6% to 8% sales growth and adjusted earnings of $2.65 to $2.85 per share.
"While we are clearly disappointed that we will fall short of our plans, there have been several key wins during the season that give us reason to be confident moving forward," said Jim Hagedorn, chairman and CEO. "We have seen unit growth in consumer purchases of our lawn fertilizer products for the first time in several years. Our controls businesses — where growth in consumer purchases has been in the high teens — are having their best season ever. In addition, our mulch business has grown by about 25% through the first seven months of the year. Those facts, coupled with market share gains in nearly every category, reinforce our confidence in our strategy and our brands."
The company pointed to slowing consumer demand following a strong and early start to the lawn care season in the second quarter. However, the gardening season, which traditionally peaks in mid- to late-May, has not met expectations. Consumer purchases of Miracle-Gro branded soils and plant food are in line with 2011 and appear to have been negatively impacted by an industry-wide slowdown in the sale of flower and vegetable plants. In addition, poor weather and challenging economic conditions will also cause the company’s European business to fall short of expectations.
"While we remain confident in the long-term growth opportunities in our business, it is clear that near-term category growth has become harder to achieve," Hagedorn said. "Over the balance of the fiscal year we will pressure test our assumptions and make any necessary adjustments as we plan for the 2013 lawn and garden season."
EPA, LG Electronics help families save energy
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched Team Energy Star to help engage and educate American youth and their families about saving energy in the home.
Team Energy Star is giving kids to tools to help protect the climate through easy-to-implement, money-saving actions — with the help of Dr. Seuss’ the Lorax.
“Team Energy Star is a great way to involve young people in two critical issues of our time — saving energy and protecting the climate,” said Sarah Dunham, director of EPA’s Office of Atmospheric Programs. “Engaging our country’s youth in making a difference today will make a big difference in securing a cleaner, more sustainable future.”
DoSomething.org and LG Electronics USA have teamed up the EPA by running their own Team Energy Star Challenge. Kids are encouraged to share their energy-savings stories and are recognized by the EPA and provided additional rewards from DoSomething.org and LG.
James Fishler, senior VP marketing, LG Electronics USA, said, “Team Energy Star is an innovative initiative that will help families find creative ways to save energy and money while helping to save the planet. LG is proud to join forces with DoSomething.org on this fun challenge in which kids can earn the chance to win cool LG products like smartphones, TVs and computer monitors."