Spring is the new Black Friday at Walmart, too
Walmart has borrowed a page from the playbook of Home Depot and Lowe’s with a new spring seasonal promotion that leverages the equity of Black Friday.
Walmart said it was featuring Black Friday like prices from March 21-29 on more than 60 outdoor products and took aim at the home improvement channel noting in a press release that it has nearly twice as many locations as the leading home improvement store. To generate traffic, Walmart is featuring two cubic foot bags of red, black and brown mulch for $1.97 and what it said was the largest selection of lawn mowers and grills for less than $200. For example, Walmart is offering a Murray lawn mower for $144, a seven piece Mainstays brand patio set for $298 and a Kingsford brand charcoal grill for $88.
“Nobody does Black Friday better than Walmart, and we’re bringing that same philosophy to our new outdoor living, lawn and garden event by offering incredibly low prices on the products our customers are looking for,” said Michelle Gloeckler, SVP home for Walmart U.S. “Given the extreme winter many of our customers experienced, we know they are preparing to restore their gardens and outdoor living spaces. This event will help them save money while they transition into the new season.”
Home Depot began a similar promotion in 2010 when it said it had moved Black Friday from November to Spring, noting that the flurry of spending activity that takes place in the Spring is the equivalent for Christmas in the home improvement world. Lowe’s also employed a similar strategy this year with a promotional event called Spring Black Friday encompassing two weekends.
Artisan Group names new board members
Austin, Texas-based Artisan Group announced two new 2014 board members: Hunter Adams, owner of Trindco Inc. in Suffolk, Va.; and Scott Lardner, owner of Rocky Mountain Stone in Albuquerque, N.M.
The Artisan Group is a member organization of stone fabricators in North America that serves as a leader in the granite and surface fabrication industry.
Adams and Lardner are filling the open slots vacated by outgoing Artisan Group charter members Brad Pearce, owner of Front Range Stone in Englewood, Colo., and Layton Day, owner of Bangor Wholesale Laminates in Bangor, Maine.
Both Hunter Adams and Scott Lardner have been longtime members of the Artisan Group and look forward to taking their place on the board.
Existing-home sales decline 0.4% in February
Existing-home sales dropped 0.4% in February even while home prices continued to grow.
According to data released by the National Association of Realtors this morning, total existing-home sales came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.60 million in February, compared to 4.62 million the previous month. This is also 7.1% below February 2013 levels, and the slowest pace of sales since July 2012.
Meanwhile, single-family home sales came down 0.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.04 million, which is 6.9% below the sales pace in February 2013.
NAR president Steve Brown said that student debt may be contributing to a weak number of first-time buyers (who accounted for 28% of purchases in February, down from 30% a year ago).
“It’s clear there are other people who would like to buy a home that are not in the market because of debt issues, so we can expect a lingering impact of delayed home buying,” Brown added.
The median existing-home price was $189,000, a 9.1% improvement since February 2013. For single-family homes, the median price was $189,200, up 9.0%. The NAR noted that price gains have added an additional $4 trillion of housing wealth recovery over the past three years.
“We had ongoing unusual weather disruptions across much of the country last month, with the continuing frictions of constrained inventory, restrictive mortgage lending standards and housing affordability less favorable than a year ago,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “Some transactions are simply being delayed, so there should be some improvement in the months ahead. With an expected pickup in job creation, home sales should trend up modestly over the course of the year.”
With total housing inventory rising 6.4% in February, it’s possible that prices may level off a bit in the months ahead. The current inventory of 2.00 million existing homes for sale represents a 5.2-month supply at the current sales pace, up from 4.9 months in January and 4.6 months a year ago.