Sears considers moving out of Illinois
Sears Holdings Corp. is researching a possible move of its headquarters and 6,200 jobs out of Illinois, a company spokesman said Monday.
The retailer has had preliminary discussions with the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates, where it is located, and has commissioned an economic impact study, according to spokesman Chris Brathwaite.
Among the states the chain is researching are: Ohio, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Georgia and New Jersey, according to reports Sunday in the Chicago Tribune and the Daily Herald of suburban Chicago.
State and local incentives that Sears receives will expire in 2012, Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod said. The town and company have been talking for about a year, he said, and Hoffman Estates hopes to extend the tax breaks for another 15 years and keep the largest local employer in town.
"It’s very important for everyone to understand that we have made no decisions at this point," Brathwaite said in a statement. "We do owe it to our associates and shareholders to consider options and alternatives and intend to be very thoughtful and thorough in our deliberations."
Sears, Roebuck & Co. moved to Hoffman Estates in the mid-1990s from its former headquarters in downtown Chicago. That company merged with Kmart to form Sears Holding in 2004.
RONA posts Q1 net loss
Boucherville, Quebec-based RONA posted a first-quarter net loss of C$16.8 million, down C$19.8 million from the same period last year.
First-quarter revenues totaled C$918.2 million, down 4.0% from the year-ago period. Same-store sales were down 12.6%. The company cited a 6.2% decrease in Retail and Commercial segment revenues, offset by a 1.7% increase in Distribution segment revenues as the reason for the decrease.
“Very unfavorable weather conditions, fragile consumer confidence, and a lack of tax-credit-driven market stimulation, items outside of our control, were all factors that significantly impacted our first-quarter results,” said Robert Dutton, president and CEO of RONA.
However, the company’s strong performance in its commercial and professional division and recruitment of new dealers and expansion projects completed by its affiliated dealers partially mitigated the negative effects of these elements. Other mitigating factors include the RONAdvantages program and its private-brand and controlled-brand products.
Older consumers buying power tools
Results just released from an NPD Group study indicates that consumers ages 65 and over accounted for 30% more in power tool sales and 16% more in outdoor power equipment sales in the 12 months ending March 2011 than they did in the previous year.
The next age group, 45 years and up, accounted for 11% more in hand tool purchases in the same 12-month period than they did the previous year.
Overall, this past winter was a successful one when it came to snow thrower/blower sales. Unit sales of snow throwers/blowers grew 6% in the 12 months ending March 2011, compared with the same time last year.
Electric staplers and brad nailers grew 7% in unit sales in the 12 months ending March 2011. Sales for wrenches increased 7% between April 2010 and March 2011.
Of the hand tools sold between April 2010 and March 2011, 19% were purchased in the mass and warehouse club channels, while the specialty channel (which includes lumber/building supply, outdoor power equipment stores, Agway, Bed Bath & Beyond and Amazon.com) grew by 7% in unit sales during this time frame. In power tools, 9% sold between April 2010 and March 2011 were purchased online. For outdoor power equipment, the number was 7%.
“It usually comes down to filling a need,” said Peter Goldman, president of NPD’s home division. “Mother Nature provides an excessive amount of snow, the economy drives consumers to do-it-yourself, a redistribution of discretionary income occurs with aging consumers who are looking to simplify their DIY projects, and therefore, we begin to see sales.”
Explaining the rise in Internet purchasing, Goldman said: “The interesting thing to watch is the increases in online sales, which is not as surprising when consumers are telling us they are spending more time researching their purchases, and the Internet makes this easy for them. But it is [interesting] when growth is occurring among more large items like outdoor power equipment.”