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Housewares Show makes a splash in Chicago

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Chicago The International Home & Housewares Show, held here at the McCormick Place Convention Center, has featured a host of new color trends and green products.

In many ways, the two trends merged. Pantone, which produces a yearly preview of color trends, noted that colors from nature — particularly greens and blues — are showing a surge in popularity in the home because of their connection to the burgeoning green movement.

Annamarie Plass, a buyer for Adams Fairacre, a chain of three grocery and outdoor products stores in New York, agreed.

“We’ve just updated our collection of cookware with some really beautiful colors, green colors and blue colors,” Plass explained.

Other color trends included brash neon colors that invoke the 1980s — a new iron introduced by Hamilton Beach Brands included a black and neon pink or neon green color scheme. Mod colors, like chocolate brown and bright blue, were featured on new products, including stick vacuum cleaners from Electrolux and kitchen storage products from Starplast Industries.

On the green side, Umbra featured a new line of trash cans made from biodegradable plastic, and cleaning products company Simple Green unveiled a new line of totally chemical free cleaners with ingredients like soy. Several green products were included in a special pavilion, such as house mats and cleaning products made from recycled materials by textile company Ofertex.

Speakers addressed the issue of “greenwashing” and other sustainability issues at the show. In “Green Today, Here Tomorrow: The Emotional Currency of Sustainability,” designer Mark Dziersk said, “From Wal-Mart to Detroit to Wall Street, green has come into its own as a sincere piece of the go-to market plan.”

The International Home & Housewares Show concluded this week in Chicago. Check out the next issue of Home Channel News magazine for a full wrap-up and photos from the show.

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Construction outlook positive for health care, public safety

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A newly released report by FMI, a consulting and investment banking firm to the building and construction industry, predicts that worsening economic conditions may forestall the housing recovery until 2009, with this year’s residential building activity declining 10 percent for single-family housing, 7 percent for multi-family and 2 percent for remodeling.

The Construction Outlook report also saw decreases in the commercial, office, religious, amusement and leisure segments, all of which are tied into the economy. But certain publicly funded non-residential sectors — health care, educational, public safety and Homeland Security — will fare better, according to FMI. Health care construction will benefit from facility upgrades across the country; educational institutions will fund new projects with endowments or voter-approved bonds in several states; new police and fire stations, as well as prisons, are in the construction pipeline; Homeland Security improvements to U.S. ports and border areas are underway; and airport delays will necessitate expansion projects.

The full report, available at www.fminet.com, also addresses manufacturing-related construction, which FMI believes will remain flat in 2008 and 2009 based on “several multi-billion dollar projects under construction at the same time.” Increases in cement capacity, refineries and steel manufacturing will contribute to these gains, the research said.

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Builder confidence unchanged says NAHB

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Builder confidence in single-family homes remained unchanged for March. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the NAHB/Wells Fargo housing market index remained at 20, close to its historic low of 18 set in December 2007.

The HMI is derived from a monthly survey to gauge builders’ perceptions of the single-family housing market in the coming six months as good, fair or poor. It also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as either high to very high, average or low to very low. A score over 50 indicates that more builders view sales conditions as good than poor.

“Our surveys confirm what I’ve been hearing personally from builders across the country, which is that interested buyers are out there, but they are either reluctant to go ahead with a home purchase or they are unable to find mortgage financing they can afford,” said NAHB president Sandy Dunn, a home builder from Point Pleasant, W.Va.

Regionally, the Northeast posted a two-point decline to 21, the Midwest held even at 16, the South reported a two-point gain to 26 and the West showed a one-point decline to 15.

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