Optimism continues among AHMA members
A survey from the Schaumburg, Ill.-based American Hardware Manufacturers Association (AHMA) found most members see sales higher than a year ago.
In comparing current sales levels to year-ago levels, 75% of respondents said sales were higher in September versus year-ago levels, according to the AHMA’s monthly survey.
In August, 77% of respondents said sales were trending higher.
Timothy S. Farrell, president and CEO of the AHMA said: “Manufacturers in the home improvement industry remain optimistic about the prospects for future sales growth. And with 75% of our members reporting that current sales levels are higher than year-ago levels, the industry is well-positioned for continued growth.”
Also for September, 13% reported sales were even, and 12% said sales were below year-ago levels.
Looking forward six months, 63% of September respondents said they expect sales to be above current levels, up from 50% in August. In September, 37% of respondents said they expect sales to be even in six months and none expects sales to be below current levels.
Changes in the light bulb aisle
Government mandates will raise prices on light bulbs in the near term, but “they should be going down as production increases,” said Houston Bowlin, House-Hasson product manager for lighting.
“We’re heading into an era of compact fluorescent lights (CFL); halogen, and light emitting diode (LED) lighting,” Bowlin said. “They’re supposed to be long lasting but they haven’t yet been around as long as they’re supposed to last, so time will reveal the accuracy of those estimates.
“On the plus side, the newer bulbs are brighter, the light’s clearer, the output is better, and there’s no heat. But anything you break is going to be expensive to replace.”
The standard 40-watt incandescent bulb will continue to be produced, as well as several other types of bulbs, but if sales of those bulbs increase dramatically the law allows for those exemptions to be withdrawn and production made to cease, Bowlin said.
“With the banned incandescent bulbs there is no ‘cannot sell after’ date, so stores can put them on the shelves until they’re gone,” he said.
Don Hasson said that end users with questions have a great resource in the hardware store and lumberyard dealers.
“They’re professionals,” he said, “and we know how hard they’re working, and how hard we’re working with them, to try to make sure their customers have the information they need.”
House-Hasson Hardware is a privately owned hardware distributor headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn., with about $200 million in annual sales.
House-Hasson reacts to new plumbing laws
The Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act is forcing changes in the store aisles.
Major changes are bearing down on plumbers and consumers as plumbing fixtures will soon have to meet new government-mandated environmental requirements, say product managers with House-Hasson Hardware.
House-Hasson, the Knoxville, Tenn.-based regional hardware distributor, is working with its 2,000 hardware store and lumberyard dealers to make sure that they — and their customers — are ready for the new products mandated under the law, the company said.
“We’ve been communicating continuously on these subjects with our dealers and vendors,” said Don Hasson, president of House-Hasson Hardware. “Everyone’s life is going to be altered in some way. We’re making sure our dealers have the information they need to make it a smooth transition for their customers’ benefit.”
The Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act, signed into law in January 2011, requires a weighted average of no more than 0.25% lead on wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures. The law alters just about everything that touches potable water, said Steve Rudd, House-Hasson plumbing product manager.
“Plumbing products made of brass and any products with brass components have a certain amount of lead that goes into them,” said Rudd.
The changeover to the different type of brass means that “factories had to make a tremendous investment in new equipment,” Rudd said. “It takes a much harder metal to make threads (to join plumbing components) than in the past, and tolerances for plumbing fittings are very strict. As a result, production isn’t as fast and it’s more expensive.
“Also, each product has to meet codes from the federal down to county level.”
There are some 900 plumbing-related brass fitting line items in the House-Hasson inventory that can’t be sold after Jan. 4, 2014, Rudd said, adding: “They’re selling very quickly right now.”
These brass facts are changing faucets as well. Beginning Jan. 4, 2014, faucets containing lead cannot be sold, which means faucets are being converted to plastic or a hybrid containing no lead, Rudd said.