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Toilets – The next big home improvement trend?

by Kendall Holmes
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So, with the housing market in the crapper, is there any good news for building supply retailers?

You might not think so as you read stories about home builders going bankrupt and foreclosures reaching record levels.

But, at least according to a recent New York Times story, things aren’t all that bad at big box retailers such as Home Depot and Lowes.

The story suggests that many homeowners are moving away from big-ticket discretionary remodeling projects and toward smaller repair projects. In a word, they’re buying things like toilets.

 “Customers are moving away from discretionary projects and are spending money on small repair projects,” Carol B. Tomé, Home Depot’s chief financial officer, told the Times. “Plumbing is as basic as it can get in terms of repair. It outperformed the company average.”

Another trend at Home Depot and Lowes as cold approaches and energy prices remain stuck at record highs: Homeowners are buying energy-savers such as weatherstripping, CFL light bulbs and pipe insulation.

(Actually, to look at the two companies’ sales numbers, people must be buying lots and lots of toilets and light bulbs. Home Depot, for instance, sold $21 billion of stuff in the second quarter of this year …. and turned a profit of $1.2 billion after taxes.)

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