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Producers cite costs in green certification survey

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Wood certification has reached its 15th birthday, but many forestry companies still harbor reservations about the costs and benefits associated with green certifications.

This was the finding of two recent surveys conducted by Random Lengths, an industry publication that tracks lumber and other LBM commodity prices, and the Southern Forest Products Association (SFPA), a forestry trade group.

The SFPA, which surveyed Southern Pine producers, found that 61% do not use a certification system. Another 60% reported that they receive regular requests for certified products, and 46% have no plans to seek certification anytime soon. However, 89% of respondents said they feel it is important to market Southern Pine as “green.”

The Random Lengths survey, which included wholesalers, distributors and retailers as well as producers in several areas of the country, delved into some of the impediments against certification. Expense was a big factor, with the average cost of obtaining and maintaining certification pegged at $19,898 annually. Five respondents reported a six-figure cost, according to Random Lengths.

Approximately 56% of the Random Length respondents did not engage in a certification program. The survey also found that certification relied heavily upon “regional market variances, whether the customer base is residential or commercial, and whether a seller seeks a share of government projects that require green certification.”

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Home Depot to accept MasterCard PayPass

BY HBSDEALER Staff

MasterCard Worldwide announced Monday that Home Depot will begin accepting its contactless payment system, MasterCard PayPass, at 1,974 retail locations across the United States.

The MasterCard PayPass is designed to provide customers with faster transactions and greater payment convenience: Customers simply tap their MasterCard PayPass cards or devices on a PayPass reader at checkout to complete their purchases.

“Contactless payments meet consumer demand for more convenient ways to pay in retail environments,” said Cathleen Conforti, SVP, Global PayPass, MasterCard Worldwide. “The increasing popularity of MasterCard PayPass demonstrates that merchants and customers alike appreciate the speed and convenience PayPass delivers, as consumers continue to shift their preference to electronic payments from cash and check.”

In addition to MasterCard PayPass, Home Depot will continue accepting all other traditional magnetic-stripe payment-card brands.

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Affluent Americans spending on outdoor improvements, study says

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Affluent Americans — or those making $100,000 or more annually — are spending more on their outdoor living spaces, according to a study by Unity Marketing.

Spending by this group on outdoor living luxuries rose 22.6% from 2007 to 2008, and the trend has continued in the first quarter of 2009, with spending up 33% over the same quarter last year.

The Unity Marketing report — called ATrend Report on the Market for Outdoor Living Products — is based on quarterly surveys among 1,000 to 1,200 affluent consumers conducted in 2007, 2008 and the first quarter of 2009. 

Benefiting most from increased spending on outdoor living goods are big-box home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s, where the average amount spent by affluent shoppers surged 24% in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the same period last year.

“In the current recession, affluent consumers are investing more in luxuries for their homes and less on experiences, such as dining and travel,” says Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing, commenting on the company’s latest survey of luxury consumers. “Opportunities abound for marketers and retailers that tap into the product categories where affluents are still willing to indulge, like the outdoor living areas of their homes.” 

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