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News

September 15, 2020

Changing Consumer Patterns Provide Opportunities

Consumers worldwide remain highly concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their daily lives, resulting in new patterns for shopping, says a study by IBM. The data reveals opportunities for businesses to provide consumers with what they are now looking for. During the pandemic, consumers experimented with different types of shopping services and tools. Forty-four per cent of consumers have tried or would like to try placing an order via mobile app compared to 30 per cent pre-pandemic; 46 per cent have tried or would like to try ordering online with curbside pickup compared to 18 per cent pre-pandemic; and 30 per cent have tried or would like to virtually try on an outfit compared to nine per cent pre-pandemic. These trends will likely continue to increase as consumers say that even when a vaccine is available, they are not sure if they will be comfortable visiting many types of venues, with only 27 per cent indicating they would definitely visit a shopping mall once a vaccine is available.


Walmart, Schneider Partner On Renewable Energy

Walmart Inc. and Schneider Electric are collaborating to increase access to renewable energy for Walmart's U.S.-based suppliers, enabling them to lead on climate action. The initiative, called the ‘Gigaton PPA (GPPA) Program,’ is designed to educate its suppliers about renewable energy purchases and accelerate renewable energy adoption by participating suppliers through aggregate power purchase agreements (PPA). The program directly supports its ‘Project Gigaton,’ which aims to avoid one gigaton (one billion metric tons) of carbon dioxide from Walmart's global value chain by 2030. To date, more than 2,300 suppliers from 50 countries are participating in the project. Suppliers have reported a cumulative 230 million metric tons of avoided emissions since 2017 – more than 20 per cent of the goal – through energy, waste, packaging, agriculture, forests, and product use and design. The collaboration with Schneider Electric's Energy & Sustainability Services (ESS) uses Schneider Electric's ‘NEO Network,’ a global collaboration platform and community of more than 300 corporate renewable energy purchasers and solution providers. Schneider's team of renewable energy experts will engage participating Walmart suppliers and facilitate a multi-phase education and project selection process to advance supplier progress towards the execution of aggregated renewable energy purchases.


U.S. Housing Market Confidence Up

Housing market confidence in the U.S. rose in August after a slight dip in July, says Fannie Mae’s ‘Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HSPI).’ However, current sentiments do not compare to last year’s confidence. Housing market confidence hit 77.5 last month, up 3.3 points from July. Month-to-month, there are positive increases. However, in August 2019, the index reached 93.8. The year-over-year change is likely a consequence of the uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic. Doug Duncan, senior vice-president and chief economist at Fannie Mae, says, “The HPSI's recovery was driven by near-record low mortgage rates that helped restore much of consumers' positivity on whether it is a good time to buy a home, while also improving the good-time-to-sell sentiment.”


RH Has Strong Second Quarter Income

RH had net revenue of $709.3 million for the second quarter of 2020 compared to net revenue of $706.5 million in the second quarter of 2019. Gross margin for the quarter increased 520 basis points to 46.9 per cent versus 41.7 per cent last year. Net income was $98.4 million, up 54 per cent from $63.8 million in the year-ago period and adjusted net income increased 72 per cent to $123 million from $71.4 million last year.


Guerrero Joins BB&B

Juan Guerrero is senior vice-president, chief supply chain officer, with Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. Previously, he led the supply chain and merchandising teams at FleetPride.


September 14, 2020

Small Business Facing Troubling Trends

Alignable's ‘September State Of Small Business Report’ has revealed some troubling trends facing small business owners in Canada and the U.S. It reports small business layoffs are expected over the next month, bringing payroll down from 82 per cent to just 70 per cent of pre-COVID levels. This is the first time since May that a decrease in hiring has been anticipated among small business owners. Beyond that, 46 per cent of small business owners report earning less than 50 per cent of the revenues they had prior to COVID. And the majority of retailers (66 per cent) who usually plan for temporary holiday hiring now aren't sure whether they'll even need extra staffers because 69 per cent of Main Street shop owners believe the fourth quarter this year will yield fewer sales than the same quarter last year. In fact, 33 per cent of them expect to reap less half of their fourth quarter 2019 revenues this year. And that means more than one out of three mom-and-pop shops across the U.S. and Canada are in jeopardy of closing for good before New Year's Eve, unless consumer shopping habits change quickly, it says.


June Retail Sales Increase 4.8 Per Cent

After three consecutive year-over-year declines, retail sales rose 4.8 per cent in June 2020 to $56.9 billion, says Statistics Canada. Higher sales were reported in 13 of the 19 commodity categories. Advance estimates from its ‘Monthly Retail Trade Survey’ suggest that unadjusted total retail sales increased by 4.6 per cent. For the fourth straight month, the product category posting the largest increase was food (+10.4 per cent). With Canadians spending more time at home, spending on home furniture, furnishings, housewares, appliances, and electronics rose 12.9 per cent. The largest contributor to the increase came from higher sales of home appliances (+31.6 per cent). Sales of hardware, tools, and renovation and lawn and garden products increased 12 per cent. The largest contributors to the rise in sales from the same month in the previous year were lumber and other renovation materials and supplies (+10.1 per cent) and live plants, seeds, and other home and garden supplies (+29.3 per cent).


Lowe’s Canada Launches VIPpro Program

Lowe’s Canada has launched its VIPpro program at Lowe’s, RONA, and Reno-Depot corporate stores. This program is designed to offer its pro customers an improved and integrated purchasing experience, with added flexibility and benefits. They now have access to the same discounts and advantages throughout the Lowe’s Canada corporate store network, no matter the banner, as well as to a host of useful features on the VIPpro mobile application. “One of the strengths of the Lowe’s Canada network is that we operate over 235 corporate stores of various formats under three distinct and complementary banners throughout the country. With the VIPpro program, our pro customers can now take advantage of our wide network seamlessly; depending on the nature of their projects, they can shop at the store that best suits their needs while having access to the same benefits, and using a single Lowe’s Canada VIPpro account,” says Tony Cioffi, senior vice-president, stores. The program provides pro customers with a range of services and benefits including dedicated customer service, bulk discounts, price-match guarantees, and flexible on-site delivery options.


Liteline Continues U.S. Expansion

Liteline’s expansion into the U.S. is continuing with the addition of LEC & Company as its eastern Missouri and southern Illinois sales representative. LEC & Company has been a source of lighting information in the St Louis, MO, market for well over 50 years.


BMF Makes Changes

Sarah Hounslow is vice-president of sales and marketing at Burlington Merchandising & Fixtures Inc. (BMF). She has 17 years of experience in the design and manufacture of store fixtures and displays. Brian Glen is director of North American sales. He has close to 20 years of industry experience with Alexandria Mouldings and Jeld-Wen Windows & Doors. Terry LaFlamme is store planner. Previously, he worked in operations and store planning with both Canadian Tire and Lowe’s.


Sales Slower At HD Supply

HD Supply Holdings, Inc. had net sales of $1.6 billion for the second quarter of fiscal 2020, a decrease of $72 million, or 4.4 per cent, as compared to the second quarter of fiscal 2019. Gross profit decreased $37 million, or 5.8 per cent, to $596 million for the quarter, compared to $633 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2019. Gross profit was 38.4 per cent of net sales, a decrease from 39 per cent from the year-ago period. Net income decreased $4 million, or three per cent, to $131 million in the quarter, compared to $135 million for the same period in 2019.


September 11, 2020

Cash Usage On Decline

Canadian consumers are moving away from cash payments as they adapt to world with COVID-19, says research from Ipsos. The ‘Ipsos Canada Payments’ study says there was a significant shift away from cash in the first quarter of 2020, with consumers heavily favouring credit cards over other payment options. In March, there was a substantial three per cent drop in consumers using cash as their payment method, and an additional five per cent drop followed in June. “To see such a large change in habit in such a short span of time is unprecedented,” says Heidi Wilson, vice-president, Ipsos Canada. “Typically, it takes years to shift just a few points. For instance, from 2014 to 2019, cash usage declined by four per cent – that is a four per cent decrease over the course of five years. In comparison, we have seen an eight per cent decline in cash usage in the first six months of 2020.” Consumers are also changing how they pay in an effort to avoid touching unsanitary keypads, leading to an increase in contactless payments. And it’s not just the traditional tap. Forty per cent of consumers who own a smart phone have used their phone to pay for a purchase in the last six months. As well, 25 per cent of smart watch owners have used their watch to pay for a purchase.


Home Hardware Welcomes Three Quebec Locations

Three Quebec-based dealers have joined Home Hardware Stores Limited. L'Acadien Bricoleur in Gentilly, a Home Hardware Building Centre; Matériaux Manic in Baie Comeau, a Home Hardware Building Centre; and Centre de Renovation Saint-Paulin in Saint-Paulin, a Home Hardware; bring the total of Home Hardware stores in Quebec to over 135. Jean-Claude Parr is dealer-owner of L'Acadien Bricoleur, which has opened a fifth location in Gentilly. The store features a sales area of 7,600 square feet and a 15,000-square-foot LBM drive-thru warehouse. Michel Charette and his wife Élise Caron are dealer-owners of Matériaux Manic and are opening their second location in Baie Comeau. Their 5,000-square-foot store will feature a full assortment of product lines under the Centre de Rénovation Home Hardware banner. Dominic Crête and Dany Garand are dealer-owners of Centre de Renovation Saint-Paulin. Their 4,600-square-foot store will take on Home’s branding within the next few months as they remain open for business.


Amazon To Open Two Ontario Facilities

Amazon.com will open two new distribution centres in Ontario. A new warehouse in Hamilton will pack and ship small items such as books, electronics, and toys and a warehouse in Ajax will pack and ship large items such as sports equipment, patio furniture, pet food, and other household goods. The two new operations are expected to open in 2021. These will give Amazon 10 warehouses in Ontario and 16 in Canada. It also confirmed plans for five new delivery stations in Ontario including Kitchener, Stoney Creek, Vaughan, and two in Toronto.


Uniboard Provides Sneak Peek At Design Collection

Uniboard, a North American manufacturer of design and decorative composite wood panel (TFL), will provide a sneak peek presentation of its 2021/2022 additions to its design collection: Redefined, inspired by movement in nature; a behind-the-scenes tour of its Sayabec mill; and unveil its Press #7 – a technologically advanced press for TFL and High-Pressure Laminates (HPL) at its first live virtual launch on September 23. With its Redefined collection, it will have launched eight new finishes and close to 75 new colours in the past five years. Press #7 is the technology behind its latest growth initiatives, encompassing both TFL and perfectly matched HPL. The event will be moderated by media personality Isabelle Racicot, who has interviewed celebrities for the Academy Awards, Toronto International Film Festival, and the Grammy Awards, among other top events.


Registration Open For 2021 KBIS

Registration is now open for the ‘2021 Kitchen & Bath Industry Show’ (KBIS). The annual event, which is owned by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA), is a North American trade show for kitchen and bath industry professionals. It is presented along with the International Builders’ Show (IBS) and is one of the pillars for the annual three-day event known as ‘Design & Construction Week.’ This year’s show takes place February 9 to 11, 2021, in Orlando, FL. For more information, visit KBIS


September 10, 2020

Pandemic Creates ‘Decade Of The Home’

People's refocus on their local community in light of the COVID-19 pandemic will be long-term, bringing about the ‘decade of the home’ and forcing retailers and consumer goods companies to tailor their products and services to drive a more local experience, says a global survey from Accenture. The continuing discomfort with public spaces and travel, coupled with growing financial fears amid widespread decline in household income, will continue to keep people mostly at home. It found 54 per cent of Canadian consumers said that the pandemic has caused them to shop in closer neighbourhood stores, with three-quarters of those respondents (75 per cent) saying they plan to continue to do so long-term and 54 per cent buying more locally sourced products and 86 per cent of those saying they plan to continue to do so long-term. It also shows 44 per cent are shopping more cost-consciously and are likely to continue doing so, with consumers overall far more likely to have increased purchases of mid-range and budget brands and reduced purchases of premium brands since the pandemic began. The report notes that some brands are reaping the rewards of adjusting their services to meet the shift in consumer demands. Yet it cautions that taking advantage of these opportunities will require ongoing and careful analysis to anticipate which of these new consumer behaviours will stick and then adapting their portfolios and financial models accordingly. “Companies must boost their analytics capabilities to understand the pandemic's impact on their businesses at a local level ??? tracking its effect on local businesses and employment and people's level of comfort in returning to pre-COVID activities,” says Kelly Askew, a managing director with Accenture Strategy. “In addition to making consumers comfortable re-engaging outside the home through strict health and safety measures, retailers should carefully assess their physical assets ??? which stores to keep open and what inventory to stock, taking into account, for example, if they should leverage some of their store footprint for micro-fulfillment to support eCommerce growth. They might also experiment with temporary spaces, such as pop-ups in local communities.”


Housing Starts Up Third Consecutive Month

The trend in housing starts was 213,144 units in August 2020, up from 204,597 units in July 2020, says the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This means the national trend in housing starts increased for a third consecutive month with higher multi-family starts in Ontario, including Toronto, driving the national increase. However, CMHC expects national starts to trend lower by the end of 2020 as a result of the negative impact of COVID-19 on economic and housing indicators. Housing starts for all areas in Canada was 262,396 units in August, an increase of 6.9 per cent from 245,425 units in July. Urban starts increased by 7.1 per cent in August to 248,154 units and multiple urban starts increased by 9.1 per cent to 201,214 units. Single-detached urban starts decreased by one per cent to 46,940 units.


Wickham RONA Undergoes Renovation

Major renovations are currently underway at the RONA store in Wickham, QC, operated by dealer owner Rosaire Mathieu Inc. It will see nearly 4,000 square feet added to the store’s sales floor. The indoor and outdoor layout will also be transformed to provide an open space shopping environment and maximize the product offering. “Our priority is meeting the constantly evolving needs of regional DIYers and contractors, while also providing unparalleled service in a safe environment,” says Carl Mathieu, one of the store owners. “These renovations are part of our long-term vision of becoming a key destination for home improvement and landscaping projects.” Customers will see the product offering expand progressively across all departments, especially in horticulture, lighting, fashion plumbing, and exterior sidings, as well as doors and windows. In addition, a wide range of seasonal products will be available in the new open-floor section that will be set up just in time for the holiday season. The store will remain open during the renovation, which should be completed in December.


Dramatic Increase Forecast For Smart Checkouts

The value of transactions processed by smart checkout technologies, where the fixed checkout process is replaced by a frictionless model, will reach $387 billion in 2025, up from just $2 billion in 2020, says data from Juniper Research. Smart checkout technologies provide much simpler user experiences by removing traditional checkouts; embracing a ‘just walk out’ approach. The rapid growth will be driven by retailers seeking sustainable business models in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the pandemic’s impact is only an acceleration of a long-term decline in the fortunes of traditional retail. While the growth in adoption is dramatic, innovation will be limited to the convenience segment, where product lines are simpler and implementation costs are lower. These roll-outs will also be limited to larger retail chains that can afford the significant investment costs involved.


Falcon To Open Saturdays

Falcon Equipment Ltd.’s Surrey, BC, service shop will be open for bookings on Saturdays starting September 19. The Saturday shift will consist of a full team of four heavy-duty mechanics, a customer service representative, and a parts representative. Founded in 1988, it provides sales, rentals, service, and parts support to the lifting, rail, municipal, and utility industries within Canada. It has branch locations in Nanaimo and Surrey, BC; Leduc, AB; Regina, SK; and Winnipeg, MB. Falcon also works to support the surrounding areas with sales, service, parts, and rentals. Their suppliers include Palfinger, National Crane, Boss Railcar Movers, Dieci Telehandlers, Henderson Snow and Ice Equipment, and Timberland Utility Equipment.


September 9, 2020

Outdoor Renovations Top Task This Summer

Outdoor renovations remained popular this summer with pools taking the top spot when looking at year-over-year increases in service requests, says HomeStars. Pool related tasks had an increase of 177 per cent in July over July 2019. For those without pools, water features were popular, with a 500 per cent increase in service requests for pool-related tasks compared to last summer. With most of Ontario in phase three for COVID-19 re-openings, homeowners are starting to have more confidence with interior renovations. Brick or stone fireplace installation requests were up 900 per cent and gas fireplace requests were up 500 per cent over last year, as preparation begins for the colder months. Ontario was the only market that submitted service requests for home office renovations, which saw an 83 per cent increase in July compared to July of last year. Other popular requests included raising concrete foundations, installing generators, and carpet or rug dyeing.


Retailers Gather Virtually For Orgill Buying Event

Orgill, Inc. just completed its first-ever ‘e-Volution Online Buying Event,’ which brought nearly 10,000 retailers together with many of the industry’s top vendors and service providers in a completely virtual environment. The ‘e-Volution Online Buying Event’ ran from August 24 through September 4 and was open to its entire retail customer base, enabling them to take advantage of promotional buying opportunities, shop for seasonal merchandise, and browse through thousands of new products without ever having to leave their stores. “Because this is the first time we have ever held an event like this, we weren’t quite sure what to expect,” says Boyden Moore, Orgill’s president and CEO. “Now that it’s over, I can say that we couldn’t be more pleased with the results. While we knew this event could not replace the entire live ‘Orgill Dealer Market’ experience, based on the results, it was clear that customers and vendors embraced the concept.” In fact, it reports that buying activity during e-Volution far exceeded the results of any previous dealer market in the company’s history including last fall’s live event.


Strong Home Sales In Montreal

In total, 4,878 residential sales transactions were concluded in the Montreal, QC, census metropolitan area (CMA) in August, says the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB). This represents a 39 per cent increase compared to August of last year and the highest number of transactions ever recorded for a month of August. Geographically, all six of the Montreal CMA’s main areas registered increases in sales in August. Vaudreuil-Soulanges, the North Shore, and Laval led the way with respective increases of 62 per cent, 51 per cent, and 48 per cent, compared to August of last year. The South Shore (+39 per cent), the Island of Montreal (+29 per cent), and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu (+17 per cent) also performed well. Single-family home sales registered the largest increase at 47 per cent followed by condominium sales (+36 per cent), and plexes (+12 per cent).


Federal Government Invests In Alberta

The government of Canada is investing $3 million to help Alberta’s construction and engineering industry innovate and grow as it recovers from the impact of COVID-19. This investment from Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) will help small- and medium-sized businesses adopt new products and technologies that improve the energy efficiency of buildings and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This funding will be directed towards an Alberta-based not-for-profit organization – the Smart Sustainable Resilient Infrastructure Association (SSRIA) – to establish a network of test buildings where firms can collaborate and test their products under different conditions. WD funding is complemented by an investment of more than $2.8 million from Alberta Innovates, in-kind support from industry, and $165,000 from the SSRIA, bringing the total project funding to over $6.3 million.


Weyerhaeuser To Enhance Oregon Timberland Holdings

Weyerhaeuser Company plans to purchase and sell timberlands to funds managed by Hancock Natural Resource Group, a Manulife Investment Management company. The company is purchasing approximately 85,000 acres of timberlands in mid-coastal Oregon in one transaction and selling 149,000 acres of timberlands in southern Oregon in a second transaction. The transactions represent an opportunity to further enhance Weyerhaeuser's western timberlands portfolio with land that is contiguous with its existing ownership.


Schluter-Systems Opens Texas Facility

Schluter-Systems has opened a distribution centre office and training facility in Texas. The 500,000-square-foot centre will carry the majority of Schluter’s 8,000 SKUs available in North America. The company has warehouses in New York and Nevada and adding a third facility will improve its service levels and shipping times, it says. The Texas facility will also act as another central training location for architectural and installation customers. It will be outfitted with a new, leading-edge warehouse management system to optimize all warehouse and distribution processes, making the picking and packing procedures more efficient.


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