Scotts sales drop in Q1
Scotts Miracle-Gro reported first-quarter net sales of $211.2 million, an 8% drop over sales of $230.2 million during the prior-year quarter.
Net loss for the industry’s largest lawn and garden supplier was $1.21 million for the first quarter, which ended Dec. 31, 2011. This compares with a net loss of $1.02 million during the first quarter of 2010.
Sales in the global consumer segment were $149.1 million, compared with $188.8 million a year ago. The decline was expected, the company said, based on a planned shift of sales out of the first fiscal quarter as the company has worked with its retail partners to move shipments of its products closer to the start of the lawn and garden season. Consumer purchases of the lawn and garden products at its largest retailers (POS) have been strong in warm weather markets at the start of the new season. Since Jan. 1, these sales are up more than 20% overall, with strong increases in Texas and Florida, two important early season markets.
"We are encouraged to start the new season with year-over-year improvement in our early breaking markets," said Jim Hagedorn, chairman and CEO. "Our major marketing campaigns will launch later this month and, given our plans to increase our investment in advertising by $40 million, we remain confident that we will deliver company-wide sales growth of at least 6% this year."
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Online sales show growth in Q4
E-commerce sales continue to grow, proving that more and more consumers are choosing to shop online in addition to or instead of shopping at brick-and-mortar stores. Measurement firm comScore reported that online retail spending (excluding auctions, autos and large corporate purchases) for the fourth quarter reached $49.7 billion, up 14% versus year ago. This growth rate represented the ninth consecutive quarter of positive year-over-year growth and the fifth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth rates. For the entire 2011 year, U.S. retail e-commerce spending reached a record $161.5 billion, marking a 13% increase from 2010.
"The fourth quarter of 2011 capped off what was yet another strong year for online retail, one in which every quarter achieved double-digit increases versus the prior year," said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. "In the face of continuing uncertainty regarding the U.S. economy, consumers increasingly went online for their shopping needs. Price and convenience continue to be the critical value drivers for e-commerce, and unless those conditions change we can expect to see more channel-shifting to online in 2012 and perhaps even an acceleration in the current growth trend."
According to comScore, online sales were dominated by digital content and subscriptions, jewelry and watches, consumer electronics, toys and hobbies and computer software. The quarter was also marked by 10 individual days that surpassed $1 billion in online spending. They include Cyber Monday (Nov. 28) at $1.251 billion. Monday, Dec. 5, 2011, ranked second at $1.178 billion, followed by Green Monday (Dec. 12) at $1.133 billion.
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Employment rise little help to construction workers
The recent national upturn in job growth has not reached the construction industry, where unemployment rose from 16% in December to 17.7% in January. Those looking for work outpaced the 21,000 new construction jobs created, according to a statement released by the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA).
“While we’re encouraged to see the President’s efforts are moving our country in the right direction, today’s jobs report reveals more is needed to close the gap between those looking for work in construction and the number of new jobs being created in the industry,” said LIUNA president Terry O’ Sullivan. “Job growth is not happening fast enough.
“With 1.4 million men and women ready, willing and able to go to work building this country, there is no better time for Congress to take action by passing a highway bill that fully invests in America’s crumbling roads, bridges and transit systems,” he added.
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