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News

March 15, 2019

BC Home Sales Slide Further In February

Home sales in British Columbia were down again in February, a slump the British Columbia Real Estate Association (BCREA) continues to blame on federal mortgage-lending restrictions. A total of 4,533 residential-unit sales were recorded by the Multiple Listing Service last month, a decline of 27 per cent from the same month last year. The association’s deputy chief economist, Brendon Ogmundson, says prospective homebuyers continue to be sidelined by the mortgage stress test. In Metro Vancouver, the number of home sales fell 35.6 per cent compared with February 2018. Meanwhile, the number of homes listed for sale in the province increased 36.5 per cent to 30,891 units compared with the same month last year. Home sales also declined in January by 33.2 per cent from the same month last year. The mortgage-lending restrictions, or B20 stress tests, which were brought in at the start of 2018, require lenders to prove they can make payments at two percentage points higher than the qualifying mortgage rate.


Reno-Depot Launches AIR MILES Program

Lowe’s Canada banner Reno-Depot has launched the AIR MILES Reward Program in all of its stores. Customers can now earn AIR MILES Reward Miles on eligible purchases made in-store and online at the banner’s website. In addition to earning reward miles on eligible purchases, members of the AIR MILES Program will benefit from special offers throughout the year. They will also have the opportunity to multiply their miles by using their AIR MILES card with their Build Up Plan card (retail customers) or commercial credit card (contractors). Reno-Depot will also offer the AIR MILES Cash Reward program, which will allow customers to use their Reward Miles to get a discount on their purchases. The AIR MILES Reward Program is now offered across Lowe’s RONA, Reno-Depot, and Ace store network.


Alternative Payment Mechanisms To Drive Retail Spend

Global retail spend is expected to increase by $6 trillion between 2018 and 2023, taking total spend to $30 trillion, says a study from Juniper Research. The study shows growth will be driven by a combination of alternative payment mechanisms (most notably wallets) and online spend. However, stakeholders face a host of competitive and regulatory challenges if they are to take full advantage of the opportunity. It says reducing friction at checkout remains a key hurdle, with online cart abandonment rates high. Meanwhile, the research highlights that, in many markets, in-store spend will plateau or even decline, increasing the likelihood that major retail chains may be obliged to scale back their physical presence even further. The study argues that cart abandonment rates can be reduced by a combination of measures, including implementation of card-on-file and one-click payment solutions as well as ensuring that both popular local payment currencies and checkout procedures are on offer.


Scandit Recognized For Innovation In Retail Technology

Enterprise technology provider Scandit has received Frost & Sullivan’s ‘2018 European Technology Innovation Award’ for “bridging the gap between online and offline retail.” Each year, this award is presented to a company that has developed a product that is gaining rapid acceptance in the market. Scandit was chosen because of the way in which it is using mobile computer vision and augmented reality to enable retailers to create a digital in-store retail experience, without requiring a large infrastructure investment. Using Scandit, retailers can replace dedicated scanners with smartphones and tablets that can handle customer and employee use cases such as self-checkout, search and find, and shelf management. Augmented reality is used to overlay relevant product information on the items displayed on the screen.


BlueStar Launches Coral Kitchen Suite

Appliance manufacturer BlueStar now offers its full commercial-style kitchen suite in coral, one of 2019’s top colour picks. Launched at the International Builders Show (IBS) in February, the full BlueStar kitchen features a French door refrigerator and 48-inch platinum gas range with interchangeable griddle/charbroiler and complimentary custom ventilation in the orange-pink hybrid hue. BlueStar can also match other custom colours to any hue and apply it across its entire line of pro-style appliances including gas ranges, wall ovens, ventilation, and refrigeration.


Kshetry Water Director At Moen

Nina Kshetry is water director with Moen, a newly-created position. She will work with it to deepen its connections to water organizations across North America. She is a licensed professional engineer.


March 14, 2019

Modern Retailers Meeting Multichannel Consumer Demands

As more consumers embrace multichannel shopping, retailers are diversifying their investments online and offline to meet customers’ needs, says the annual ‘State of Retailing Online’ study by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Forrester. “Retailers are evolving with customers’ shopping behaviours by creating a seamless shopping experience online and in-store,” says Mark Mathews, vice-president of research development and industry analysis with NRF. “From pop-up stores to social marketing, retailers are finding innovative ways to engage and acquire new customers.” The study shows retailers clearly see the value of physical stores, particularly as eCommerce costs are increasing. More than half of surveyed retailers confirm they will open stores in 2019 and 36 per cent will have a higher store count than in 2018. Only seven per cent of respondents say their net store count will decrease. To bolster their customers’ store and digital experiences, increasingly customer-centric retailers are investing in omnichannel fulfillment services, personalization tactics, and mobile marketing. They are also making strides in better measurement and refined omnichannel programs.


MoistureShield Product Gets ‘Innovation Award’

MoistureShield’s Vision CoolDeck, a composite material for decking distributed by CanWel, received the ‘Innovation Award’ from the Quebec Hardware and Building Supply Association (AQMAT) at its seventh annual ‘Gala Reconnaissance’ held on March 9. The award, presented by Match MG, recognizes an invention, solution, or procedure that gives value to users. The product is made from 95 per cent recycled material and can be used for all deck projects. It reduces heat absorption up to 35 per cent and can be used at ground level, under the ground, and even under water.


Lion Electric Co. Launches All-Electric Truck

The Lion Electric Co. has unveiled its first all-electric Class 8 urban truck – the Lion8 – which will be commercialized this fall. The Lion8 has a range of up to 400 kilometres on a single charge. The Quebec government supported the development of the technology and is a result of the ‘2013-2020 Climate Change Action Plan,’ a budget which is derived from the Green Fund. The truck features zero emissions, zero noise pollution, 80 per cent energy cost reduction, and 60 per cent operational cost reduction. It has oil-free operation and is custom-built in Quebec. Lion already has orders for the vehicle, a sign, it says, that the market has been waiting for an all-electric urban truck.


CertainTeed Adds Colours

CertainTeed now offers new colour selections in its Cedar Impressions Polymer and Northwoods Vinyl siding lines. Cedar Impressions Individual 5-inch Sawmill Shingles and mitred corners are now available in colonial white, natural clay, Savannah wicker, seagrass, and sterling gray. These are in addition to the Ageless Cedar colour blends. Accessories for Cedar Impressions Single 7-inch Straight Edge Perfection Shingles are now available in another solid colour to complement the Ageless Cedar, cedar blend colour. The newest profile in the Northwoods’ line, the Single 7-inch Straight Edge Perfection Shingle, now offers three lighter shades in colonial white, sandstone beige, and desert tan. These colours are in addition to the line’s 17 other colours.


Plastic Pipe Demand To Grow

Demand for plastic pipe is projected to rise at a strong 6.5 per cent annual pace to $15.5 billion in 2022, says a report by the Freedonia Group. Plastic pipe will continue to capture market share from more traditional metal and concrete pipe materials – especially in small and medium diameters – due to its superior high-pressure resistance properties which boosts its use in drain, waste, and vent (DWV), potable water, and pressurized sewer applications. Among plastic resins, PVC will account for the majority of plastic pipe demand in 2022. However, HDPE and PEX will see the most rapid growth of all plastic pipe types through 2022, driven by growing interest in their flexibility and ease of installation. Demand for pipe overall is forecast to advance 6.6 per cent annually to $51.1 billion in 2022, rebounding strongly from declines posted during the 2012-2017 period.


March 13, 2019

Cyber-attacks Increasing In Volume And Sophistication

Cyber-attacks are increasing in volume and sophistication, causing regular security breaches affecting roughly 83 per cent of organizations, says a report by security provider Carbon Black. The report shows 83 per cent of surveyed Canadian organizations have been breached in the last 12 months, with the average number of breaches per organization at 3.42. Seventy-six per cent of organizations see an increase in attack volumes while 81 per cent say attacks are becoming more sophisticated. Eighty-five per cent of Canadian organizations plan to increase spending on cyber defense. Additionally, 59 per cent of surveyed organizations are actively threat hunting, with one in five (20 per cent) saying they have threat hunted for more than a year. It says 86 per cent of those organizations report that threat hunting has strengthened their defenses.


Lowe’s Canada Wins At AQMAT Gala

Mélanie Brown, store manager at Lowe’s Canada’s Réno-Dépôt Saint-Dorothée in Laval, QC, received the ‘Ascension Award’ from the Quebec Hardware and Building Supply Association (AQMAT) at its seventh annual ‘Gala Reconnaissance’ held on March 9. Daniel Cloutier and Réjean Lindsay, of RONA Matériaux Luc Doucet in Normandin, QC, received the ‘Loyalty Award’ and the Giroux family, of RONA Giroux & Giroux in Mansonville, QC, received the ‘Heritage Award.’ AQMAT’s ‘Gala Reconnaissance’ rewards best companies, innovative products, and deserving employees in the Quebec hardware and building materials industry. An independent panel of industry members awards 16 prizes each year, eight of which are for stores and their employees.


Sika Acquires King Packaged Materials

Switzerland-based Sika, a specialty chemicals company, will acquire King Packaged Materials Company, which manufactures dry shotcrete and mortars for concrete repair. King operates a location in the Sudbury, ON, neighbourhood of Levack which includes office space, a fabrication shop, and an equipment shop. Its additional operations are located in Brantford, Burlington, and Oakville, ON; Boibriand, QC; and Allentown, PA. Sika says the acquisition will expand its Canadian footprint and improve its growth potential in a number of markets.


HomeStars Recognizes Professionals

AquaTech Waterproofing in Ontario, Kitchen Makeovers in British Columbia, and 24/7 Electric in Alberta were deemed the ‘Best of the Best’ by HomeStars for 2019. Each year, HomeStars recognizes the most trusted home services professionals in the HomeStars’ network. Winners are selected from more than 60,000 professional services who are vetted and crowned for their commitment to consistency, integrity, and unparalleled customer service. The winners received a prize pack valued at $800 from the award sponsor, DEWALT.


U.S. January Retail Sales Rebound

Retail sales rebounded in January, increasing 1.3 per cent seasonally adjusted from December and 3.6 per cent unadjusted year-over-year, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. As of January, the three-month moving average was up 2.7 per cent over the same period a year ago. The numbers follow an unexpected revised 0.1 per cent drop in December year-over-year. November – the first half of the holiday season – grew 5.1 per cent unadjusted year-over-year. NRF does not count October as part of the holiday season, but much holiday shopping has shifted earlier and October was up 5.7 per cent year-over-year, it says. The results come as NRF is forecasting that 2019 U.S. retail sales will grow between 3.8 and 4.4 per cent to more than $3.8 trillion.


Costco Sales On The Rise

Costco Wholesale Corporation had net sales of $34.63 billion for the second quarter of its fiscal 2019 year, a 7.3 increase over net sales of $32.28 billion in the second quarter of 2018. Reported net income for the quarter was $889 million compared to $701 million last year. Comparable sales for Canada in the quarter were down 0.3 per cent, or up six per cent adjusted. Comparable sales for the total company were up 5.4 per cent year-over-year or up 6.7 per cent adjusted.


March 12, 2019

Consumers Buying Experiences, Not Objects

A consumer-centric period of retail where the consumer is in control is now taking place, says Tom Mirabile, trend expert for the International Housewares Association (IHA). Speaking at the ‘Top Trend 2019: New Consumer Insights and How to Thrive in the Retail Revolution’ session at the ‘2019 International Home + Housewares Show,’ he said as a result, housewares suppliers and retailers need to focus all their efforts on what the consumer wants, how the consumer sees themselves, and how the industry can help create solutions for them. “We need to stop looking at objects and start looking at what those objects deliver. People aren’t buying objects, they’re buying experiences.” He also said many Baby Boomers are retiring, moving, or remodeling their homes, which means they will be buying more items for their homes. Many are also in a period of personal reinvention. Many seniors are still economically active, but much of their consumption has shifted to experiences and healthcare. Mirabile noted that by 2035, one in three U.S. households (versus today’s one in five) will be headed by someone over 65 years of age.


U.S. Remodeling Industry Picks Up

The home remodeling market in the U.S. expanded by more than 50 per cent since the end of the Great Recession, says a report by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies. ‘Improving America’s Housing 2019’ shows that, as homebuilding struggled to meet the nation’s growing housing needs, spending on improvements and repairs to both owner-occupied and rental properties hit a record of nearly $425 billion in 2017. The aging of housing stock is one of the drivers of this increase. The steady uptick in house prices in many markets and the aging population are also driving increased spending on home improvements and repairs. Rising prices mean growing home equity which provides owners both the incentive and the means to undertake more and larger projects. Additionally, older households have higher homeownership rates than younger households and many have the resources to afford major renovations, including accessibility modifications that allow them to remain safely in their homes as they age. Households aged 55 and over account for half of all improvement spending by homeowners today. The centre says that although younger households have struggled to gain a foothold in the homeownership market since the housing crash, the number of owners under 35 is finally showing signs of a rebound and so is their remodeling spending.


FedEx Launches SameDay Bot

FedEx Corp. has launched its’ SameDay Bot’ ‒ an autonomous delivery device designed to help U.S. retailers make same-day and last-mile deliveries to their customers. With the bot, retailers will be able to accept orders from nearby customers and deliver them by bot directly to customers’ homes or businesses the same day. It is collaborating with companies such as Lowe’s, Pizza Hut, Target, Walgreens, and Walmart. On average, more than 60 per cent of merchants’ customers live within three miles of a store location, demonstrating the opportunity for on-demand, hyper-local delivery. The FedEx bot is designed to travel on sidewalks and along roadsides, delivering smaller shipments to customers’ homes and businesses. It plans to test the bot this summer in select markets, including Memphis, TN, pending final city approvals. The initial test will involve deliveries between selected FedEx Office locations. FedEx Office currently offers a same day city service that operates in 32 markets and 1,900 cities using branded vehicles and uniformed employees.


Home Hardware Awarded ‘Best Managed Company’

Home Hardware has received a ‘2019 Best Managed Company’ award for overall business performance and sustained growth. The program chooses from Canadian owned and managed companies with revenues over $15 million demonstrating strategy, capability, and commitment to achieve sustainable growth. This year’s winners will be honoured at the annual Canada’s Best Managed Companies gala in Toronto, ON, on April 17, during the ‘Best Managed Symposium.’


Softwood Lumber Market Back To Normal

After a sleepy end to last year, the manufacture, sale, and consumption of North American dimension softwood lumber in 2019 to date has returned to relative normalcy, says Madison’s Lumber Reporter in its weekly lumber price newsletter. The wholesaler (producer or secondary supplier) price of benchmark softwood lumber commodity Western Spruce-Pine-Fir KD 2x4 #2&Btr is at US$402 mfbm (per thousand board feet). Prices of this construction framing commodity lasted several weeks at $422. This week that price is down 4.7 per cent compared to last week and one-month-ago and is down 26 per cent from the same time in 2018, when it was US$540 mfbm. Of particular interest to building materials suppliers, especially those dealing in wood products, is the latest data on the strength of the U.S. real estate market for full-year 2018. Home buying and selling activity, with details like inventory and prices, are good indicators of looming construction projects. Canadian and U.S. softwood lumber manufacturers as well as wholesalers and secondary suppliers, carefully watch this data to gain an understanding of coming demand from their customers, the construction industry, and homebuilders.


Atlantic Home Show Rebrands

The ‘Atlantic National Home Show’ has rebranded to the ‘Saint John Home Show’ and returns this weekend to Harbour Station in Saint John, NB. The new name better reflects the location and area the show serves. Known as New Brunswick’s construction and renovation showcase, 2019 marks the 42nd edition of the annual event and it will once again bring together the leaders of home building and renovation industries from all over the southern part of the province and beyond. This year, the show will feature new and long-time exhibitors and showcase a variety of products and services for the home, along with ideas and inspiration for DIY renovators. It takes place March 15 to 17. For more information, visit Saint John Home Show


March 11, 2019

Housing Starts Resume Downward Trend

The national trend in housing starts was 203,554 units in February, compared to 207,742 units in January, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. The national trend in housing starts resumed its downward trajectory in February while still remaining above historical average. Both single-detached and multi-unit dwellings starts trended lower. Higher mortgage rates combined with still-favourable, but less stimulative economic conditions contributed to the softer demand on new home markets in urban centres. In Vancouver, BC, the trend measure of housing starts remained steady at a similar level as January. The trend measure in Toronto, ON; Montreal, QC; Edmonton, AB; and Regina, SK, trended lower. In Sherbrooke, QC, and Halifax, NS, housing starts were up in February compared to the same period a year ago.


Dodge Momentum Index Falters In February

The Dodge Momentum Index lost 4.4 per cent in February, falling to 146.9 from the revised January reading of 153.6. The index, issued by Dodge Data & Analytics, is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for non-residential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for non-residential buildings by a full year. Both components of the index lost steam in February – the institutional component moved 5.9 per cent lower, while the commercial component dropped 3.4 per cent. Since November, the index has re-established a sawtooth pattern that’s often been present in recent years. It’s also become clear that the average level of activity has downshifted slightly since the summer of 2018. From April through August last year, the average level of the index was 158.6, while from September through the latest month the average is 150.3 – a decline of 5.2 per cent. This shift continues to suggest that the growth in construction activity will moderate over the coming year.


Lowe’s Supports ‘International Women Build Day’

Habitat for Humanity, Lowe's, and hundreds of women volunteers united in 18 communities in Canada, the U.S., and India for the first ‘International Women Build Day,’ a global event focused on building and improving homes while raising awareness of affordable housing issues facing women and their families. The build day was also a tribute to ‘International Women's Day’ on March 8. In Canada, one in eight households do not meet the country's core housing standards of adequacy, suitability, or affordability. In India, the urban housing shortage stands at 18.78 million units, out of which about 96 per cent is considered in the ‘economically weaker section’ and ‘low income group’ categories. Since 2008, Lowe's has supported Habitat's Women Build program in the U.S. and has helped build, renovate, or repair 5,290 homes. This year, recognizing the global need for affordable housing, Lowe's is expanding its support to help build homes in Montreal, QC, and Bangalore, India. Lowe's partnership with Habitat began in 2003 and, since then, the company has committed more than $65 million to support the housing non-profit.


Colour Kaleidoscope Trending To 2020

Diverse colour palettes with never-ending patterns and combinations will be the name of the game more than ever before, says Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute and colour expert for the International Housewares Association (IHA). Speaking at the ‘2019 International Home + Housewares Show,’ she said, “There are all kinds of ways to bring the expected into the unexpected – a compelling dichotomy you might say – where we’re seeing the real combined with the surreal and the novel combined with the nostalgic. Some of this might be a bit of a push for some people, but we need to catch customers’ eyes. At the same time, there is that other need humans have, particularly in the world we live in today, for comfort and calm.” This is where softer palettes come into play, though there is still a need to update these with unusual twists to attract attention. The popularity of health and wellness treatments, hydration, and herbal tea all factor into these colour groupings. Among other trends is black and white striping used with another pattern and Living Coral, Pantone’s 2019 Colour of the Year, which “conveys instant warmth and is really embraceable,” said Eiseman.


Dollar Tree To Close Stores

Dollar Tree had a loss of $2.31 billion for the fourth quarter of 2018 compared to a profit of $1.04 billion in the fourth quarter of 2017. Consolidated net sales for the quarter were $6.21 billion compared to $6.36 billion in the year-ago period. Same store sales increased 3.2 per cent year-over-year. Gross profit was $1.91 billion versus $2.1 billion. The discount retailer says it will close 390 Family Dollar stores this year while renovating 1,000 other locations. The renovated locations will sell alcohol and include a $1 Dollar Tree merchandise section.


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