|Title:||United States number of hardware store, home center, and lumberyard outlets for 2010, and forecast with percent change for 2011 to 2015|
Start of full article - but without data
2010 Hardware Stores XX,XXX Home Centers X,XXX Lumberyards X,XXX TOTAL -XX,XXX
2011 Hardware Stores XX,XXX Home Centers X,XXX Lumberyards X,XXX TOTAL XX,XXX
2012 Hardware Stores XX,XXX Home Centers X,XXX Lumberyards X,XXX TOTAL XX,XXX
2013 Hardware Stores XX,XXX Home Centers X,XXX Lumberyards X,XXX TOTAL XX,XXX
2014 Hardware Stores XX,XXX Home Centers X,XXX Lumberyards X,XXX TOTAL XX,XXX
2015 Hardware Stores XX,XXX Home Centers X,XXX Lumberyards X,XXX TOTAL XX,XXX
Percent Hardware Stores -X.XX% Change Home Centers -X.XX% 2010-2015 Lumberyards -X.XX% TOTAL -X.XXX%
You know that feeling you get when you are sitting in a restaurant waiting for the server to bring your drinks and she just keeps passing by your table. You check your watch, you clear your throat and you think to yourself ... "the drinks have to get here any minute, I've been waiting so long."
YET WHEN THE KITCHEN DOOR swings open, all the server has is a tray with three orders of lasagna for table six and your drinks are still nowhere in sight.
That's kind the same kind of feeling we all have right now in regard to the economic recovery.
We got our table, ordered our drinks and here we sit ... waiting for unemployment to improve, waiting for stocks to bounce back and waiting for houses to start selling--The whole time wishing we had a drink.
In 2009, we saw the home improvement market bottom out somewhere in the high $XXX billion range and at a five-year low. So, we knew things would have to get better in 2010. And they did.
In 2010, the home improvement industry posted sales of $XXX.X billion according to our estimates. This represented an increase in industry sales of about X.X percent year over year.
A Mixed Blessing
While it may seem hard to give the government much credit for doing anything right these days, it seems that the tax incentives offered to new homeowners during the first several months of 2010 actually helped fuel sales in the home improvement industry.
Unfortunately, the government's hope that the tax incentives would give the housing market a push start failed to come to fruition, and after the incentives expired, housing returned to its "new" normal levels throughout most of the remainder of the year.
The good news for the home improvement industry heading into the last half of 2010, however, was that the industry was once again growing. After three consecutive years of declines, home improvement sales in the U.S. were actually on the uptick again.
Heading into 2011, once again we looked longingly at that kitchen door and thought to ourselves ... our drinks have to be coming out next.
The good news is, we got our drinks. The bad news, the order was wrong.
Last year, we predicted that 2011 sales would increase to $XXX.X billion. We felt that this strong increase would be fueled by a rebound in the housing market as affordability hit new levels and even cash-strained buyers would take advantage of low prices.
At the time, our estimates of a housing rebound and more robust economic recovery were earlier than some other analysts had predicted but we were confident that pent up housing demand would cause movement in the market.
By now, we are well into 2011 and we have all realized that the recovery in the housing sector still lies further down the road. But that's not the only bad news that hampered industry growth in 2011. Here are a few other factors that held the industry down this year:
* Unemployment. Despite record levels of housing affordability and record lows for mortgage rates it's hard to qualify for a loan if you don't have a job. And you can't discount the fact that unemployment rates can negatively impact even individuals who have jobs as they cast a specter over the nation's entire economic outlook.
* Lending. In the wake of the financial crisis a few years ago banks have certainly tightened lending restrictions. While most mortgage brokers will tell you that home loans are still out there to be had, they do require cleaner credit and a higher down payment. It is the second part of this requirement that is keeping many younger consumers out of the market.
Tighter lending restrictions have also had an impact on businesses that have seen banks rein in their credit lines.
This has caused some retailers to hold back on expansion plans, adding new product lines and other business moves that could have helped promote sales.
* Governmental Gridlock. If you haven't noticed, there is a bit of acrimony in Washington these days. The political powers that be on both sides of the aisle seem to be more concerned with keeping score than they do with solving the nation's economic troubles. Meanwhile in 2011 we saw the nation pushed to the brink of defaulting on its loans. None of this incites confidence among consumers or business owners who see what's going on economically in other countries around the world that were once thought to be financially strong.
So, now that we have discussed all the factors that stunted growth in 2011, you may be wondering, "were there any bright spots?" The short answer is "yes."
While the economic tenor in our nation today is skewed to the negative, consumers are still spending money on home improvement and here are a few points about how their habits have changed:
* Home repair and maintenance is still a primary catalyst. With many people choosing to forego moving into a new home, they are left having to repair and maintain existing homes. While it is true that more is typically spent on home improvement purchases around the sale of a home, that doesn't mean people aren't spending to fix toilets, paint rooms, carpet floors and more.
* The rental market. This is one area of the housing industry that is actually robust these days. As more young people delay purchases or families find themselves no longer in the market for buying a home--rental is the only option. This surge in rental activity means sales of products to property owners as rental clients turnover.
* Niche areas. Despite the down economy, Americans still find ways to spend money on their hobbies and luxuries and many of these items are sold through home improvement channels. Take for instance the boom we've seen in pet supplies, farm and ranch, lawn and garden and hunting and outdoors products.
This consumer spending resulted in slight gains in 2011 for the home improvement industry. And while some of the growth through the first two quarters of the year seemed modest, consider that these year over year advances were competing against the tax-incentive fueled sales of 2010.
As a result, we are anticipating sales in 2011 to ring in at $XXX.X billion, well short of our prediction from last year but still an increase of about X.X percent over 2010's totals.
What Lies Ahead?