November 22, 2019
Manufacturing Sales Edge Down
Manufacturing sales edged down 0.2 per cent in September to $57.4 billion, following a 0.8 per cent increase in August, says Statistics Canada. Sales were down in 10 of 21 industries, representing 62.2 per cent of the Canadian manufacturing sector. Sales in the petroleum and coal product and the motor vehicle parts industries accounted for the majority of the decrease; however, these decreases were largely offset by increases in the machinery and motor vehicle industries. Sales were down in seven provinces for the month, led by Alberta. British Colombia reported the largest increase. Inventory levels declined 0.8 per cent to $88 billion in September, following two months of increases and were down in 11 of 21 industries. The inventory-to-sales ratio decreased from 1.54 in August to 1.53 in September, mostly due to lower inventories of durable goods. This ratio measures the time, in months, that would be required to exhaust inventories if sales were to remain at their current level.
TIMBER MART Gets Kingston Member
Kingston, ON-based Cornerstone Building Supplies has joined TIMBER MART. “TIMBER MART has the credibility, brand image, and buying power we need to succeed in Kingston’s competitive market,” says Mason Laframboise, owner of Cornerstone Building Supplies. “We look forward to seizing all of the opportunities available to us as a member and continuing to grow our business.” The store opened in 2018 and since then has grown its product assortment to include windows, doors, flooring, tile, cabinets, electrical products, lumber, hardware, and common building supplies. The business has a 7,500-square-foot retail space, a large warehouse, and a yard. It focuses on selling high-end building projects and packages. Cornerstone is currently undergoing renovations which are expected to be complete by the end of 2019.
Kitchen, Bathroom Remain Top Renovations
Eight in 10 U.S. homeowners have renovated a kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room in the last two years, and 60 per cent have specific plans to do more in the next two years, says a survey by U.S. online fixture retailer Hausera. Homeowners spent an average of $12,800 for their kitchen renovation, $11,100 for their bathroom, and $10,800 for their laundry room. Adapting to a lifestyle change, such as a changing family size or accommodations due to a disability or aging, was the biggest reason for a renovation. Other reasons to renovate include improving the functionality of a space and increasing property value before selling. Green and smart products continue to gain popularity, with energy efficient lighting systems and smart lighting systems the most popular products. Wish lists also include hands-free faucets and Wi-Fi-enabled refrigerators. Among homeowners who completed renovations during the last two years, staying on budget and finding the right professionals were cited as the top challenges. Seventy per cent of homeowners have hired a design/build professional and 60 per cent have hired an interior designer for their kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room renovation.
L.J. Smith To Launch ‘Deck Your Stairs’ Photo Contest
L.J. Smith Stair Systems will hold its ‘2019 Deck Your Stairs Photo Contest’ from December 1 to 15. The online Facebook contest invites people to submit images of ways they’ve decorated their indoor stair system for the holidays. People may enter one time and include up to five photos of their own decorated stairway. The contest is open to residents of Canada and the U.S. Four winners will each win $100 cash prizes. For more information, visit L.J. Smith
Lowe's Third Quarter Sales Decrease
Lowe's Companies, Inc. had net sales of $17.39 billion for the third quarter of 2019, a decrease over net sales of $17.41 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Comparable sales increased 2.2 per cent year-over-year. Net earnings for the quarter were $1 billion, up from $629 million in the year-ago period. Earnings were impacted by $53 million in non-cash pre-tax charges for a strategic review of its Canadian operations. Gross margin was $5.64 billion compared to $5.38 billion a year ago. The company had improved performance in departments which have historically underperformed – paint, millwork, and décor. Categories that performed above the company average included tools, lawn and garden, appliances, and hardware.
November 21, 2019
Lowe’s Canada Restructuring Operations, Closing 34 Stores
Lowe’s Canada is closing 34 stores and “simplifying multiple store banners” as part of a reorganization effort to improve performance and better position it for the future. The retailer will close 26 RONA stores, six Lowe’s stores, and two Réno-Dépôt stores across the country. It will also reorganize its corporate support structure and rationalize its product assortment. “Closing underperforming stores is a necessary step in our plan to ensure the long-term stability and growth of our Canadian business,” says Tony Cioffi, interim president. “We are taking decisive action to build a healthy business which will provide us with the flexibility to reinvest in our future growth. This includes having a clear strategy for our banners, built on the strength of our Lowe's, RONA, and Reno-Depot brands. It also means investing in our omnichannel and supply chain capabilities, our web platforms, and our existing corporate stores and affiliated dealer network.” Lowe's Canada will continue serving customers from markets affected by the closures via other corporate and affiliated dealer stores from its network, as well as its online offering and parcel delivery service. The closures will take effect in January and February.
Harsh Canadian Winter Forecast
The snow and cold that has arrived early across much of Canada are preview of the harsh winter ahead, says the Weather Network in its ‘Winter Forecast.’ British Columbia is expected to have near seasonal temperatures and snowfall in the interior and temperatures should be above normal near the coastline and across the north. Residents of the Prairies can expect a long and frigid winter, with the coldest weather across Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Alberta will see periods of mild weather which could come close to offsetting the bouts of severe cold. A cold winter is expected in Ontario and Quebec, especially across northern Ontario. An active storm track will likely bring above normal snow totals to much of the region, along with a risk for ice at times, especially across the south. A delayed start to spring is also anticipated. In Atlantic Canada, an inconsistent start to winter is expected, but this region will still see an abundance of winter weather with near to above normal snowfall totals. Southern and eastern coastal areas of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland will see periods of milder weather at times with a higher potential for rain and ice. A delayed start to spring is expected for the entire region. In northern Canada, a typical winter is expected with near normal temperatures and snowfall. However, periods of milder weather at times across western areas should tip this region to the mild side of normal.
U.S. Construction Starts Fall
New U.S. construction starts declined 11 per cent in October to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $696.3 billion, says Dodge Data & Analytics. This is the third consecutive monthly drop in U.S. construction starts activity. By major sector, non-residential building starts fell 20 per cent from September to October and non-building starts dropped 14 per cent, while residential starts moved two per cent lower. The October statistics pushed the index down to 147 compared to 166 in September. In residential building, single family housing starts were seven per cent lower, while multifamily starts increased 14 per cent over the month. Through the first 10 months of the year, residential construction starts were six per cent lower than in the same period of 2018. Single family starts were down three per cent, while multifamily declined 12 per cent year-to-date.
Showers Reign In Master Bathroom Remodels
Master bathrooms are making extra space for showers, says the ‘2019 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study.’ Four in five U.S. homeowners upgrade their shower during master bathroom renovations (83 per cent) and over half increase their shower size (54 per cent). This is particularly notable when considering that only 22 per cent expand their master bathroom square footage during renovations. For many master bathroom renovators, shower expansion alleviates the pre-project pet peeve of a small shower or having an outdated space. In addition, a quarter of renovating homeowners remove their master tub and more than four in five of those choose to enlarge the shower in its place (84 per cent). Among those who added or replaced their bathtub, popularity of freestanding flat-bottom tubs grew from 41 per cent in 2017 to 50 per cent in 2019. Accent walls are also increasing in popularity in bathrooms both inside and outside the shower. Renovators are using patterns, different surface materials, colour, and textures as the differentiator on the accent wall. Custom medicine cabinets are also increasing in popularity.
Saint-Gobain To Acquire Continental
Saint-Gobain plans to acquire Continental Building Products. The transaction has been unanimously approved by the board of directors of both companies. Saint-Gobain says Continental is a geographic complement to its North American operations, good positioning in growth regions in the east and south-east of the U.S., and strong profitability. The acquisition will broaden Saint-Gobain’s asset portfolio and enhance its ability to provide a wider customer base with innovative solutions. The combination will also allow Continental customers to benefit from an enriched product portfolio supported by Saint-Gobain’s global R&D and product development infrastructure. As well, the combination will creates opportunity for cost synergies and performance improvements. The deal is expected to close in the second half of 2020.
Jacklin Named Director Of Marketing
Joe Jacklin is director of marketing and contractor development, a newly-created role at Regal Ideas. He has almost 30 years of industry experience, notably in marketing at Home Hardware Stores Limited.
November 20, 2019
Home Depot Sales Up 3.5 Per Cent
The Home Depot had sales of $27.2 billion for the third quarter of 2019, an increase of 3.5 per cent compared to sales of $26.3 billion in the third quarter of 2018. Comparable sales for the quarter were up 3.6 per cent and comparable sales in the U.S. were up 3.8 per cent year-over-year. Canadian comparable sales were also positive and online sales grew approximately 22 per cent over the previous year period. Net earnings were $2.8 billion, down 3.4 per cent compared with net earnings of $2.9 billion in the year-ago period. Gross profit was $9.4 billion, up 2.6 per cent over gross profit of $9.2 billion. Drivers for professional sales included fasteners, pneumatics, concrete, and insulation and drivers for the DIY segment included patio furniture, exterior stains and paint, soils, and live goods.
U.S. Retail Sales Up Over Last Year
U.S. retail sales in October increased 0.2 per cent seasonally adjusted over September and were up 4.2 per cent unadjusted year-over-year, says the National Retail Federation (NRF). The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants. October’s results make up for most of the 0.3 per cent month-over-month decline seen in September and build on September’s year-over-year increase of 4.1 per cent. As of October, the three-month moving average was up 4.3 per cent over the same period a year ago, compared with 4.7 per cent in September. Online and other non-store sales were up 14.6 per cent year-over-year. Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 1.6 per cent year-over-year and building materials and garden supply stores were down 0.2 per cent.
Self-checkout Technologies Gaining Traction
Self-checkout technologies are gaining traction in retail stores with 40 per cent of shoppers using these solutions within the last six months and 86 per cent saying they are comfortable with the technology, says Zebra Technologies Corporation in its ‘12th annual Global Shopper Study.’ Furthermore, most shoppers (58 per cent) – especially Millennials (70 per cent) – agree that self-checkout provides an improved customer experience. The majority of store associates (54 per cent) say staffed checkout areas are less necessary with new technology that automates the process. Most retail executives (87 per cent) believe self-checkout frees up store associates to better serve customers and 81 per cent say they’re starting to see a return on their investment. Retailers are also trying to improve the in-store experience through the use of robotics. Only seven per cent of shoppers have interacted with a robot in a retail environment in the last six months, but nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) say they are comfortable with them while 32 per cent of associates report concerns about being replaced by one.
Budget Blinds Now Offers Hunter Douglas Products
Budget Blinds franchises throughout Canada now offer Hunter Douglas products. The 74 Budget Blinds franchises are eligible to join the Hunter Douglas aligned dealer program and add its products to their consultation and installation services. Franchisees now have access to hundreds of products including sheers, shades, blinds, shutters, and motorized and other operating systems.
Skanska Creates Carbon Calculating Tool
Skanska USA, alongside the Carbon Leadership Forum and partners in industry, has created the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3) tool, a solution for calculating and evaluating the carbon emissions embodied within a wide array of building materials. Traditional assessments of a building’s emissions and life-cycle costs focus primarily on energy efficiency or the operational carbon of a structure. Until now, due to lack of data or data too complex to evaluate, few tools or benchmarks were available to facilitate awareness of the embodied carbon opportunity which is to reduce the carbon footprint of a structure even before it is made operational. EC3 enables the building industry to easily access and view material carbon emissions data, allowing them to make carbon smart choices during material specifications and procurement.
November 19, 2019
Retail Bucks Business Insolvency Trend
The slowing Canadian economy has resulted in the first year-over-year increase in business insolvencies in almost two decades, says data by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy (OSB). The number of businesses that failed in the past 12 months to September was up 4.1 per cent compared to the same period in 2018. On an industry level, mining, oil, and gas extraction as well as the information and cultural industries were the main drivers of the rise in corporate insolvencies. Both sectors experienced an increase in business insolvency filings of over 40 per cent. The finance and insurance (27.6); professional, scientific, technical services (20.6 per cent), and real estate, rental, and leasing (14.7 per cent) sectors also experienced significant challenges. A few sectors, such as retail trade with 5.8 per cent fewer bankruptcies. Increases were greatest in Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia while Saskatchewan was the only province to experience a decline over the past 12 months but, for the past three months, realized a 14.9 per cent increase compared to the same quarter last year. OSB says the number of consumer insolvencies is also increasing, up 8.5 per cent compared to last year.
Black Friday Shopping Gaining Popularity
The traditionally American retail holiday of Black Friday is continuing to gain popularity in Canada and has become the most popular shopping event among Canadians, says the Retail Council of Canada in its second annual ‘Holiday Shopping Survey.’ Forty-three per cent of Canadian consumers plan to open their wallets on Black Friday, the day after American Thanksgiving, compared to 40 per cent last year. In contrast, 34 per cent plan to shop on Boxing Day. The study confirms that Black Friday isn't a passing trend in Canada. In fact, Canadians who plan to shop on Black Friday plan to spend a greater share of their 2019 holiday budget on Black Friday (38 per cent of holiday budget) compared with those who shop on Boxing Day (30 per cent of holiday budget). Consumers still like shopping in physical stores as well, with 72 per cent of holiday shopping budgets to be spent in-store with the remaining 28 per cent to be spent online. Possible reasons include a majority of Canadians agree that finding the right gift can be challenging (67 per cent) and they prefer to shop in-person so they can see and touch the products (65 per cent). When it comes to price, however, 36 per cent believe they get better deals online than in-store during the holidays. Not surprisingly, more than two in five Canadians (44 per cent) say Cyber Monday deals are better online, while a similar amount (40 per cent) think Boxing Day deals are better in-store.
Walmart Canada Launches Blockchain Freight Network
Walmart Canada and DLT Labs have launched a blockchain-based freight and payment network. The system uses distributed ledger technology to track deliveries, verify transactions, and automate payments and reconciliation among Walmart Canada and its carriers, which deliver inventory to over 400 retail stores across Canada annually. All Walmart Canada's third-party carriers are scheduled to be live by February 2020. The solution is accessible using a web portal and mobile application. The network manages, integrates, and synchronizes all the supply chain and logistics data in real time, aggregating the data between Walmart Canada and its fleet of third-party trucks on a shared ledger. It also automates the myriad necessary calculations enabling real-time invoicing, payments, and settlement. It integrates with each company's legacy systems so organizations can continue to follow their existing processes without retraining or investment in technology.
Henkel Opens Technical Centre of Excellence
Henkel Adhesive Technologies has opened a technical centre of excellence for flexible packaging adhesives and coating applications in New Jersey, NY. Focused primarily on Loctite adhesive and coatings, the facility includes labs for evaluation, design, and testing, full-scale equipment, and state-of-the-art customer training facilities to support the needs of converters and brand owners. With packaging being a critical element in expanded shelf life and food safety, and increasingly important for sustainability, Henkel is investing in delivering innovative solutions to meet the ever-increasing demand driven by consumers and retailers.
Weyerhaeuser Completes Timberlands Divesture
Weyerhaeuser Company has completed the sale of its Michigan timberlands to Lyme Great Lakes Holding LLC, an affiliate of the Lyme Timber Company LP. The transaction, which was announced in September, includes 555,000 acres of timberlands in northern Michigan. "This transaction is part of our ongoing effort to strategically optimize our timberlands portfolio," says Devin W. Stockfish, president and chief executive officer of Weyerhaeuser.
November 18, 2019
Canadian Home Sales Hold Steady
National home sales were unchanged from September to October, says the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). This follows a string of monthly increases that began in March. Activity is now almost 20 per cent above the six-year low reached in February 2019, but remains seven per cent below heights reached in 2016 and 2017. There was an almost even split between the number of local markets where activity rose and those where it declined. Higher sales in Greater Vancouver, BC; Fraser Valley, BC; and Ottawa, ON, offset a monthly decline in activity in the Greater Toronto, ON, Area (GTA) and Hamilton-Burlington, ON. Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity rose 12.9 per cent year-over-year. As well, the number of newly-listed homes fell by 1.8 per cent in October, with the GTA and Ottawa posting the largest declines. Almost a third of all housing markets posted a monthly decline of at least five per cent, while about a fifth of all markets posted a monthly increase of at least five per cent. Steady sales and fewer new listings further tightened the national sales-to-new listings ratio to 63.7 per cent. This measure has been increasingly rising above its long-term average of 53.6 per cent. Its current reading suggests that sales negotiations are becoming increasingly tilted in favour of sellers; however, the national measure continues to mask significant regional variations.
Black Friday Shopping Gaining Popularity
The traditionally American retail holiday of Black Friday is continuing to gain popularity in Canada and has become the most popular shopping event among Canadians, says the Retail Council of Canada in its second annual ‘Holiday Shopping Survey.’ Forty-three per cent of Canadian consumers plan to open their wallets on Black Friday, the day after American Thanksgiving, compared to 40 per cent last year. In contrast, 34 per cent plan to shop on Boxing Day. The study confirms that Black Friday isn't a passing trend in Canada. In fact, Canadians who plan to shop on Black Friday plan to spend a greater share of their 2019 holiday budget on Black Friday (38 per cent of holiday budget) compared with those who shop on Boxing Day (30 per cent of holiday budget). Consumers still like shopping in physical stores as well, with 72 per cent of holiday shopping budgets to be spent in-store with the remaining 28 per cent to be spent online. One possible reason is that a majority of Canadians agree that finding the right gift can be challenging (67 per cent) and they prefer to shop in-person so they can see and touch the products (65 per cent). When it comes to price, however, 36 per cent believe they get better deals online than in-store during the holidays. Not surprisingly, more than two in five Canadians (44 per cent) say Cyber Monday deals are better online, while a similar amount (40 per cent) think Boxing Day deals are better in-store.
Lowe’s Canada Network Stores Honoured
Three Lowe’s Canada network stores received ‘2019 Outstanding Retailer Awards.’ Lowe’s Crowfoot was named ‘best large surface retailer’ for showing how great things can be accomplished by working together. RONA Gatineau (La Plateau) received the Marc Robichaud ‘community leader’ award for its commitment to social engagement. Ace Victory Building Centre received the ‘industry spirit’ award. This award was presented to a store that particularly stood out to the jury.
Masco Signs Agreement To Sell Cabinetry Division
Masco Corporation has entered into a definitive agreement to sell Masco Cabinetry to ACProducts, Inc., a manufacturer of cabinetry products owned by American Industrial Partners. The closing of the sale is expected to occur during the first quarter of 2020, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory review.
eCommerce Drives Walmart Earnings
Walmart Inc. had total revenue of $128 billion for the third quarter of its 2020 fiscal year, an increase of 2.5 per cent over revenue of $124.9 billion for the same period in the previous year. U.S. comparative sales increased on a two-year stacked basis by 6.6 per cent and U.S. eCommerce sales increased 41 per cent year-over-year with strong growth in online grocery. Net sales at Walmart International were $29.2 billion, an increase of 1.3 per cent compared to the year-ago period. Overall net income was $3.3 billion for the quarter, up 92.3 per cent compared to net income of $1.7 billion last year.