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News

July 5, 2018

Housing Affordability Slides Back

The little bit of housing affordability relief that Canadian homebuyers enjoyed in late 2017 slipped away in the first quarter of 2018, says the ‘Housing Trends and Affordability Report’ by RBC Economic Research. Toronto home prices fell again in the latest period and enough so to counter the impact of rising interest rates. Housing affordability therefore improved for the second-straight quarter in the area. Toronto was in fact one of only two markets tracked by RBC Economic Research that recorded a decline (Winnipeg, MB, was the other). While encouraging, the Toronto region still has a long way to go before homebuyers feel any meaningful relief, says the firm. Vancouver home ownership costs reached their highest levels on record in the first quarter of 2018 — considered by many to be at crisis levels. Besides the high interest rates that have impacted a number of cities across Canada, Vancouver has also faced a re-acceleration in home prices, causing further material deterioration to affordability. Elsewhere in Canada, rising interest rates caused affordability to erode modestly in the majority of markets. The quarterly increase in RBC's aggregate measure in Saskatoon, SK, Ottawa, ON, Halifax, NS, and St. John's, NL, was the largest in more than a year. Furthermore, Montreal, QC, faced a third-straight rise in its measure, reaching its highest point since 2011.


CPCA Granted Tariff Exemption

The Canadian Paint and Coatings Association (CPCA) is pleased the Government of Canada granted its formal request for an exemption from the proposed countermeasure tariffs on U.S. goods coming into Canada as of July 1. In June, the federal government invited Canadian stakeholders to comment on a list of proposed retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods in response to U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum. In a formal submission to the Department of Finance, CPCA noted the proposed tariff on imported U.S. steel drums and cans (proposed Tariff 7310.29) could be interpreted to include pails, cans, vats, and totes used by Canadian paint and coatings manufacturers. With no Canadian manufacturer of these pails and cans, particularly for architectural paint and aerosol sprays, Canadian-based manufacturers would face millions of dollars in higher input costs in relation to competing finished products imported from the U.S. The proposed countermeasure would have imposed tariffs on all Canadian paint and coatings manufacturing facilities, both Canadian and U.S.-owned, and further exacerbated current competitive and regulatory alignment challenges between our two countries.


Canadians Not Using Reward Points

Canadians who earn reward points on their credit card say points are “as good as cash,” yet most (64 per cent) don’t think of them as a financial asset and risk missing opportunities to save money and pay down debt, finds a report by CIBC. About half (49 per cent) admit they're aimlessly collecting points and 37 per cent say they rarely or never redeem their points. On average, cardholders are sitting on 48,800 points on their primary credit card – enough for a small home improvement project or a new BBQ or garden trimmer this summer, depending on the loyalty program. Moreover, when it comes to understanding the value of their points, the majority of reward cardholders (73 per cent) admit that they don't actually check or compare the retail cost of purchasing an item before redeeming points for it. Nor do they compare various redemption options to determine the best value for their points (71 per cent). Among those who use their rewards card as their primary credit card, two in five (38 per cent) claim they're saving up points for a big-ticket item or a dream vacation. Almost half (49 per cent) admit they're aimlessly collecting points to “see them pile up” or, at most, to occasionally window-shop the rewards catalogue for redemption options. Few (13 per cent) redeem points regularly for items they'd otherwise buy with cash.


AMVIC Employee Count Correction

The ‘Made In Canada’ company profile in the June 2018 issue of Home Improvement Retailing contained an error. The news item indicated AMVIC had 509 employees when, in fact, they have 50. Home Improvement Retailing apologizes for any inconvenience caused by this error. .


July 4, 2018

Lowe’s Canada Converts Etobicoke RONA

Lowe’s Canada has invested $3 million into its RONA store in Etobicoke, ON, and transformed it into the new RONA building centre model. This is the second RONA location in Ontario to go through such a transformation, following the renovation of RONA Markham, which was completed in May. By the end of 2018, some 10 stores across the country will be converted to the new store model. The store reflects modern property trends with open floor plans, brighter rooms, and outside spaces designed to become a natural extension of the interior. As a result, the store is brighter, less compartmentalized, and allows customers to have a 360-degree view of the retail area. In addition, seasonal products have been moved up near the entrance of the store to renew the shopping experience on a regular basis. Household appliances now have a prime location near the kitchen project section. The Etobicoke store is attached to a massive storage area that acts as a central delivery hub for stores in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Composed of a 130,000-square-foot warehousing area and a five-acre paved lumber yard, this hub can house large quantities of products in key contractor categories such as roofing, drywall, and insulation.


Taiga To Acquire Exterior Wood

Taiga Building Products Ltd. has entered an agreement to acquire Exterior Wood, Inc. Exterior Wood has been operating a wood treatment facility and distribution centre in Washougal, WA, since 1977, and services retail building supply centres throughout the western U.S. and Canada with a variety of pressure-treated products. The acquisition will expand Taiga's existing wood treatment operations to three facilities in Canada with additional penetration into the U.S. market. The transaction is expected to complete in July.


The Home Depot Outlines Sustainability Progress

In its 2018 responsibility report, the Home Depot says its stores have cut energy use 23.5 per cent since 2010, exceeding the company's goal to reduce consumption by 20 per cent by 2020. As part of its commitment to responsibility, the Home Depot has updated its parental leave policy so it gives six weeks of 100 per cent paid leave to all parents, plus an additional six weeks of 100 per cent paid maternity leave to all birth mothers. As well, the company has expanded its global wood-purchasing policy as part of its commitment to High Conservation Value Forests and tropical Intact Forest Landscapes (IFLs). The company's updated policy will take effect on September 1 and will include requirements for the Amazon and Congo basins, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. In addition, the retailer has asked its suppliers to exclude additional chemicals from residential household cleaning chemical products sold online and in stores by the end of 2022.


Ehrlick Moves To CTDA

Mark Ehrlick is vice-president, dealer support, with the Canadian Tire Dealers Association (CTDA). Previously, he was district manager, Greater Toronto Area, with Sport Chek. He has 25 years of experience in a variety of senior roles in the retail industry.


Industrial Safety Gloves Market Shows Growth

The industrial safety gloves market size is estimated to exceed US$7.2 billion by 2024, says research by Global Market Insights, Inc. Increasing focus on worker wellbeing in the construction, chemical, healthcare, and food processing industries is escalating global industrial safety gloves market size during the forecast time. Occupational hazards, electric shocks, and chemical hazards are among the noticeable factors giving rise for protection measures from end-use. The report shows increasing construction industry growth is propelling requirement for worker protection measures. Regulations regarding worker safety will also foster growth. The natural rubber material segment is expected to witness more than 6.2 per cent growth up to 2024. Increasing demand for rubber protection for handling electrified components, wiring, and engineering tools requires insulating material for shock protection. The cut gloves market is anticipated to witness over 6.5 per cent compound annual growth rate up to 2024. Rising demand for arm protection gloves for handling sharp edge materials such as glass, metals, and abrasion are also driving product demand across industries.


July 3, 2018

Kitchen Renovation Offers Greatest ROI     

A kitchen renovation is the upgrade of choice with the potential to boost a property's value by more than 12.5 per cent, says a survey by Royal LePage. Tied in second place, a finished basement or a new bathroom has the potential to increase a property's value between 2.5 per cent and 12.5 per cent, depending on the investment. Adding a pool or deck is considered the least worthwhile renovation to increase a property's value with pricing potential limited to a maximum of 2.5 per cent of the value of the home. As well, for Canadians looking for more general guidance on where to focus their home projects, the vast majority of surveyed experts recommended interior renovations (95 per cent) over exterior renovations (five per cent). The survey shows that prospective sellers are willing to invest less than 2.5 per cent of a property's value on home renovations prior to listing their home, which represents an investment of up to $15,138 on a property valued at $605,5122 - the current median home price in Canada. When asked which generation is the most likely to renovate their home, 45.1 per cent of experts say Baby Boomers, as many are planning to sell and downsize. They are also most likely to have the funds needed for a significant renovation.


Column Fridges On Trend

Manufacturers of kitchen appliances are coming out with sleek and seamless designs for column refrigerators in all manner of configurations, sizes, and finishes. They are also more energy efficient than standard refrigeration, says Vernon, BC-based Genier’s Appliances. The older trend of built-in kitchen appliances is becoming new again, as top appliance manufacturers release their latest lines of column refrigerators. First introduced around 15 years ago, column fridges are becoming more popular with consumers designing and installing custom kitchens. Instead of stand-alone units, the fridges are incorporated into the wall of the kitchen and are usually integrated with the cabinetry. The ability to flush-mount refrigeration in so many different sizes is what makes column fridges so popular. Manufacturers are also offering a range of finishes and colours. Jenn-Air appliances has even announced a line of Italian leather finishes for its luxury brand of column refrigerators.


Taiga Distributes Huber Products

Taiga Building Products now distributes Huber Engineered Woods OSB products. Based in North Carolina, Huber was founded in 1883 and is now a global company. Products Taiga will carry include AdvanTech Flooring, Zip Panels, Zip-R Panels (insulated OSB panels), and all related accessories.


Pier 1 To Close 25 North American Stores

Pier 1 Imports will close up to 25 North American stores in its 2019 fiscal year. The company says the closures will allow it to dedicate more resources to driving sales growth. Six of the initial closes will be in Quebec following disappointing sales, with the closures scheduled for August. Pier 1 has more than 65 locations in Canada.


BB&B Earnings Slide

Bed, Bath & Beyond had net earnings of $43.6 million for the first quarter of its fiscal 2018 year. This compares to net earnings of $75.3 million in the first quarter of its fiscal 2017 year. Net sales for the quarter were $2.8 billion, an increase of approximately 0.4 per cent from the prior-year quarter. Comparable sales decreased roughly 0.6 per cent year-over-year. The company had strong sales growth from its customer-facing digital channels.


June 29, 2018

Fear Of Missing Out Drives Homebuyers

Canadian homebuyers are influenced by fear of missing out, perceived impact of foreign investor activity, and expectations of future price growth, says the ‘Housing Market Insight’ (HMI) report by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). In both Vancouver, BC, and Toronto, ON, 48 per cent of homebuyers respectively spent more than they budgeted on their home purchase while only 24 per cent of homebuyers in Montréal, QC, exceeded their budget. The data suggests the ‘fear of missing out’ hypothesis could have an impact on buyers' budgets. About 55 per cent of buyers experienced a bidding war in Toronto and Vancouver, which is much larger than the 17 per cent recorded in Montréal. In Vancouver, 68 per cent of respondents believe foreign investors have a lot of influence in driving up home prices while 48 per cent of respondents in Toronto believe foreign investors have a lot of influence driving up home prices.


Global Decathlon Focuses On Sustainable Homes

After months of preparation, teams from all over the world will depart for Dezhou, China, on July 3 to participate in the ‘Solar Decathlon 2018’ competition, which brings together 21 teams from 11 countries and 43 universities. From July 11 to 29, the teams will build sustainable homes, which will be judged based on 10 criteria. The winner will be announced on August 17. “Our committed involvement to developing homes of the future, which are intelligent and adapted to a new market, is already bearing fruit. This is a unique opportunity to be on the front lines, to anticipate our clients' needs, and to be ready for what's coming next,” says Geneviève Fournier, vice-president – customers at Hydro-Québec Distribution, which is sponsoring TeamMTL. “The Solar Decathlon encompasses a broad range of important issues such as affordable housing, environmental and cultural sustainability, Chinese and Canadian cooperation, and the future of Quebec's energy and export industries,” says James Nicell, dean of the faculty of engineering at McGill University.


Unifor Launches 'I Shop Canada' Campaign

In support of workers and good paying jobs, private sector union Unifor has launched a national 'I Shop Canada' campaign to promote and increase the purchase of made-in-Canada products and services. The campaign is featured on social media platforms for consumers, workers, and companies to share information on made-in-Canada goods and services. Unifor says the online awareness campaign comes in response to the escalating trade war with the U.S. and a growing sentiment among Canadian consumers to support homegrown industries. “By choosing to shop Canada, you are investing in good paying jobs while also providing a boost to the economy,” says Jerry Dias national president at Unifor. “Together we can make a difference – one purchase at a time.”


Fire Protection Market Poised For Growth

The global fire protection materials market for construction was estimated at US$3.92 billion in 2016 and is forecast to reach $8.10 billion by 2025, says Grand View Research. Increasing use of fire protection materials for various types of constructions owing to the introduction of strict fire safety regulations and building codes is estimated to drive the market over the forecast period. In addition, increasing public awareness regarding fire safety of residences and workplaces is likely to propel the market. North America follows strict building codes, making the region a major consumer of fire protection materials. Awareness among people and high disposable income will help North America retain its dominance throughout the forecast period. The high price of fire protection materials due to the use of expensive raw materials in the products is acting as a restraint in this market. Moreover, extensive research and development heightens the selling cost of the final product. Sealant is expected to dominate the market over the forecast period while putty will increase due to increased construction activity in North America and Asia Pacific.


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