As snow blower manufacturers are dreaming of a white Christmas—and a white January, and a white February—consumer research from Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD Group indicates that blowers and throwers, of the electric and gas-powered variety, are selling briskly to older customers, predominately male, who are increasingly selecting higher-horse power product.
Analysis: The big-box warehouse home centers lead all other channels in unit share (41.2 percent) and dollar share (39.6 percent), but the biggest gainer is the department store channel, up nearly 8 percentage points in dollar share. Hardware stores lost share on both charts.
Analysis: The most powerful 11-hp-or-higher blowers had the biggest increase—almost 7 percentage points—and the under-5 hp class showed the largest year-over-year decline. “Clearly, bigger is better here,” said Mark Delaney, NPD Group’s director of home improvement. He also suggested that the jump in the electric-corded category is likely connected to the rise in green-product awareness.
Mean while, total average price slightly increased in 2008 to $387, but prices declined in the Northeast by about $20.
Analysis: Last year, the 55-plus age group was essentially tied for last in terms of dollar share. This year, the baby boomers took the lead. Also, of note: research shows more than 72 percent of buyers in the year ended September 2008 were male.
Analysis: While total home improvement stats show brand/model declining in importance from 2007, snow blowers tell a different story indeed—brand/model is up more than 6 percentage points as a purchase motivator to 30.9 percent. Proximity to a retailer is also more important today. “The rise in close to home is very consistent with what we see in other areas as a reason for retailer shopped,” said Delaney. “Also, people are doing more research online so they can go out, get it and get home.”
Methodolgy NPD data is based on monthly tracking of nearly 70 categories to 30,000 optin consumers. The 2008 data above reflects the 12 months ended September 2008.
Marblehead, Ohio, store joins PRO Hardware group
The Village Hardware Co. in Marblehead, Ohio, has joined the PRO Hardware buying group, according to the Beacon newspaper of Port Clinton, Ohio.
Open since 2000, the Village Hardware Co. has a wide selection of plumbing, heating, electrical and hardware/household items. The store also carries Martin Senour paints and offers screen and window repair, UPS shipping, fax and copy service and small appliance repair.
Now called Village “PRO” Hardware, the store is holding a “grand re-opening” sales event through the holiday season.
PRO Hardware has been in business for 50 years, providing tools, building, electrical and plumbing supplies. It’s part of PRO Group, an Englewood, Colo.-based group that has 400-plus manufacturer partners and does more than $3.2 billion in annual distributor sales.
Aubuchon closes another location
Aubuchon Hardware, the 127-store Northeast chain, has closed another location — this time in Barre, Mass., according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette newspaper. The store had been in Barre for 68 years.
Michael D. Mattson, director of advertising and marketing for the Aubuchon chain, told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette that at 5,000 square feet, the store did not have enough space for Aubuchon’s usual mix of products. In the last four to five years, most Aubuchon stores have been expanded to between 8,000 and 10,000 square feet. In addition, the store changed managers too many times in recent years, he said.
Aubuchon closed its Au Sable Forks, N.Y., location Dec. 8, saying sales had declined in recent years. Meanwhile, the chain acquired two locations in New Hampshire recently.
Aubuchon Hardware stores are located in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York and Connecticut. The chain, started by William Aubuchon in 1908, celebrated its 100th anniversary this year.