As home-improvement stores continue to wade through choppy economic waters, Americans are turning their DIY determination to lawn care and landscaping projects.
New research from Scarborough shows that 50 million homeowners -- or 29% -- are currently working on a landscaping project, making it the top DIY priority around the country. Painting/wallpapering is next, with 28%, followed by carpet/flooring projects, with 14%.
More than half in the Scarborough sample (51%) say they have shopped at The Home Depot during the past year, and 47% have shopped at Lowe's. Walmart, Ace Hardware, and Target come next, with Sears, K mart, True Value, Sherwin-Williams and Sam's Club rounding out the top 10.
Despite progress in certain areas, the home-improvement sector remains a little unsteady. Earlier this week, Lowe's announced a surprise decline in its sales. And while first-quarter profits at The Home Depot beat investors' estimates -- earning $812 million in the quarter, up from $725 million in the year-ago period -- sales decreased 0.2% to $16.82 billion, with consumers spending less than expected sprucing up their homes. (Same-store sales fell 0.7% in the U.S.)
"Our sales declined slightly due to a slow spring selling season," says Frank Blake, chairman/CEO, Home Depot, in a release. Still, the Atlanta-based company expects sales to increase about 2.5% for the full fiscal year, and the company increased its profit forecast.
And at Ace Hardware, the largest retailer-owned hardware cooperative, first-quarter sales climbed 2.8% to $854 million. But net income fell 42% to $6.8 million, partly due to shifts in the timing of ad spending, compared to $11.8 million in 2010.
"While there is still uncertainty in the overall economic environment, we will continue to provide our retailers with the products and services they need to drive further growth as the economy stabilizes," Ray Griffith, Ace president/CEO, says in a press release. While Ace added 38 new stores, it cancelled 41 stores in the first quarter.