Focus 100 Retail - November 2012

By Darius Helm

 

It’s taken six years, but it looks like the housing market has finally stabilized, and all signs suggest that the market is entering, albeit sluggishly, into a growth mode. Nearly all the retailers and contractors on the Top 100 list are reporting that they anticipate growth this year, and it looks like the average growth will be about 5% or 6%. Because many of those on the list are market leaders, it’s likely that total growth in the residential flooring market will be somewhat lower.

Competition is still extremely fierce. After all, consumers have less disposable income than in recent years, and flooring is a postponable item. Furthermore, the average square footage per capita has gone down in the last six years. Diversification has been an effective strategy for many retailers, both in terms of products—window treatments, countertops—and markets like mainstreet commercial and even bid.

The overall trajectory of sales this year was guided by the overall weather trend, much like it was last year. For most of the nation, it was an unnaturally warm winter. In fact, it was the fourth warmest winter on record, according to data compiled since the 1890s, and the warmest since the turn of the century—only the Southwest and lower Rocky Mountain states and the Pacific Northwest (nine states in all) experienced normal winters.

The warm, dry weather allowed for a greater number of builder and remodeling projects than normal, so the first few months of the year were strong. By springtime, which generally experiences a surge of flooring activity, much of the demand had been released and those months were slower than normal. For many retailers, demand didn’t start to build again until well into the summer months, and by most accounts that activity has continued into the fall, albeit somewhat tempered by the uncertainty and fear-mongering brought about by election year politics.

Most of the relevant economic indicators are now pointing in the right direction. Consumer confidence is the highest it’s been in nearly five years, and the stock market is back up to where it was in 2007 before the financial crisis. Unemployment is down to 7.8% compared to 9.1% this time last year and 9.6% in October 2010. 

It’s worth noting that these statistics actually paint a rosier picture than the reality on the ground. Economic growth in the U.S. is still fairly anemic at 2%, and on top of that the global picture remains fragile, with many of the world’s leading economies still flirting with disaster. And while U.S. unemployment numbers may be falling, many of those who are finally getting jobs are trading down. At the same time, energy costs remain high and are poised to continue their inexorable rise, and next year promises to bring significant increases in food prices, as we start to feel the impact of this year’s widespread drought.

There are big disparities between the states when it comes to unemployment rates. At one end is North Dakota with a 3% unemployment rate (thanks to the oil boom in the Bakken), with Nebraska and South Dakota close behind (3.9% and 4.4%, respectively). At the other end is Nevada at 11.8%, Rhode Island at 10.5%, California at 10.2%, New Jersey at 9.8% and North Carolina at 9.6%.

In terms of the monthly drop in unemployment rates from August to September, it was good news for California, which along with South Carolina and Utah posted the biggest drops (0.4%, 0.5% and 0.4%, respectively). States with 0.3% drops included Nevada, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Illinois, Missouri, Louisiana and Iowa. The states that posted no drop in unemployment—Maine, Virginia, New Hampshire and North Dakota—all have lower unemployment numbers than the national average.

For the complete story of the Top 100 Retailers, see the November 2012 issue of Floor Focus Magazine.


Copyright 2012 Floor Focus 



Other Archived Articles

Heavy Snow Dampens Builder Confidence   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 17, 2015 -- Homebuilder confidence fell slightly in February due largely to heavy snow in much of the country, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

New York Manufacturing Expansion Slows   Full Article
New York, NY, Feb. 17, 2015 -- The New York Federal Reserve’s manufacturing index showed that conditions improved at slower rate in February.

NWFA Offers Discounts Through CCA Global Division   Full Article
St. Louis, MO, Feb. 17, 2015 -- The National Wood Flooring Association has announced its new Business Marketplace program, in partnership with BizUnite, to provide members discounts in many business operations.

Surfaces Exhibitors Donate Flooring from Show   Full Article
Las Vegas, NV, Feb. 17, 2015 -- Exhibitors at Surfaces last month committed to donating 140,765 pounds of used flooring to the Mountain Re-Source Center.

Floors and More Wins Chamber Award   Full Article
Benton, AR, Feb. 16, 2015 -- Floors and More recently won a 2014 Small Business Award from the Bryant chamber of commerce.

Patent Board Rules for Tandus in Dispute with Interface   Full Article
New York, NY, Feb. 16, 2015 -- The Patent Trial and Appeal Board has ruled in favor of Tandus Flooring in a dispute with Interface regarding a patent on an installation system, according to Law 360.

IICRC Moves Headquarters to Las Vegas   Full Article
Las Vegas, NV, Feb. 16, 2015 -- The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification said it is moving its headquarters to its Global Resource Center in Las Vegas.

Kährs Acquires Minority Stake in Pozgaj Flooring   Full Article
Stockholm, Sweden, Feb. 16, 2015 -- Wood and resilient maker Kährs Group said it has acquired a minority stake in recently formed Croatian Pozgaj Flooring.

Consumer Sentiment Falls from January Peak   Full Article
Ann Arbor, MI, Feb. 13, 2015 -- Consumer sentiment declined in February after reaching an 11-year high in January, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan index.

Mohawk Group Sponsors HPD Collaborative   Full Article
Calhoun, GA, Feb. 13, 2015 -- Mohawk Group said it has become part of a growing list of “Visionary” sponsors of the Health Product Declaration Collaborative.

Earthwerks Signs Distributor Longust   Full Article
Houston, TX, Feb. 13, 2015 -- EarthWerks said it has signed a distribution agreement with Longust Distributing, Inc. to cover the southwestern U.S.

NAHB Analyzes Data on Boomerang Millennials   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 13, 2015 -- A recent study of “Boomerang Millennials” may have important implications for this key demographic and what it means for the housing market, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Metroflor Names Langstaff Design Director   Full Article
Norwalk, CT, Feb. 13, 2015 – Metroflor Corp. said that Robert Langstaff has been named the company's first director of design.

More Designers, Architects Attend Surfaces   Full Article
Dallas, TX, Feb. 12, 2015 -- Informa Exhibitions U.S. said that attendance at this year's International Surface Event was comparable to the 2014 show.

Retail Sales Decline in January   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 12, 2015 -- Retail sales fell 0.8% last month, according to the Commerce Department.

Jobless Claims Edge Up Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 12, 2015 -- Initial applications for unemployment benefits last week rose 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 304,000, the Labor Department said.

Milton Warman, Coloramic Tile Founder, Dies   Full Article
Chicago, IL, Feb. 12, 2015 -- Milton Warman, 92, founder of Coloramic Tile and Carpet Fair, died Feb. 7.

House Price Growth Steady in Most Markets   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 12, 2015 -- The majority of metropolitan areas experienced steady but slightly stronger price growth in the fourth quarter, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors.

Stonewood Floors Names Martin Senior Vice President   Full Article
Everett, WA, Feb. 11, 2015 -- Daniel Martin been named senior vice president for Stonewood Floors.

Mortgage Application Volume Declines Last Week   Full Article
Washington, DC, Feb. 11, 2015 -- Mortgage applications last week decreased 9% from one week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.