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NPD Group: spring into lawn and garden

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The lion’s share of lawn and garden sales occur in the second quarter: 36 percent of barbecue grills; 38.2 percent of grass seed/repair; 38.5 percent of long-handle tools; and a full 43.3 percent of fertilizer/herbicide/pesticide, according to data from Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group.

April, May and June will likely always remain the dominant season for these categories. But according to consumer data, there are some shifting sales trends afoot. Most notably, price appears to play more of a factor in consumer purchase decisions compared to last year.

Warehouse home centers lead all channels in dollar share sales of fertilizer and barbecue grills. The story is very similar in long-handle tools and grass seed, where the big boxes also dominate. However mass merchants are making in-roads as price becomes a more important factor in the consumer’s decision-making process.

In barbecue grills, the mass channel grew significantly to 26.1 percent market share. But more than that, the data shows that two-burner barbecues gained 7.6 percentage points of dollar market share in 2007, while three-burner barbecues declined significantly, and four or more burners declined slightly.

“That seems to indicate folks are scaling back a little bit from those really big grills that were almost a status symbol for homeowners in recent years,” said Mark Delaney, NPD Group’s director of home improvement. “It’s much more about price these days than it was a year ago.”

The relative importance of price showed year-over-year increases in its importance as a purchase motivator in all four breakdowns.

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Wal-Mart Canada pays out record bonuses

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Wal-Mart Canada store associates are marking a successful fiscal 2007 by sharing a record $45.4 million in bonus payments, based on company and store goals, according to the retailer.

“This represents the company’s greatest bonus payout in its 14-year history,” the retailer said in a statement.

Wal-Mart Canada began a bonus program in 1994 when the retailer took over the country’s Woolco stores. This year, 242 of 299 stores nationwide paid bonuses to eligible part- and full-time associates under the program — “an average reward was nearly $1,000,” according to the company.

“In keeping with a policy of open communication, Wal-Mart store management shares detailed sales and profitability progress figures with store associates daily,” the statement said. “This year’s record bonus payment reflects Wal-Mart Canada’s success in a year in which it responded to significant industry challenges”

Successful initiatives included responding quickly to the higher Canadian dollar with lower prices and keeping stores opened “around the clock” in the lead-up to Christmas.

“Pricing and operational strategies, the continued growth of our supercentre program, marketing campaigns promoting our price leadership and many other factors brought customers to our stores last year,” said Jim Thompson, Wal-Mart Canada’s senior vp-operations. “However, it was our store associates that delivered a phenomenal performance in a tough year for retail.”

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Menards plans new southern Ohio location

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Menards plans to build a new 144,107-square-foot store in Hamilton, Ohio, according to a report in the Oxford (Ohio) Press.

The Menards store is in the initial stages of zoning approval in Fairfield Township, Ohio. Current plans call for the Menards to anchor a 52.8-acre shopping center.

According to the report, the retailer was eyeing a smaller site, but halted that plan because of annexation issues between two local municipalities. The new store is “35 percent larger” than in that previous plan.

Ohio has been a growth spot for the big-box retailer — other new stores in the state are located in Mansfield, Lancaster and Marion.

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