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Home Depot and Lowe's Adjust to the New Normal

Written By Brian Hicks

Posted August 26, 2010



Like any party that went on about five hours after it should have ended, the housing bubble has delivered up quite a hangover.

Because for a large portion of the market, those “big gains” in equity turned out to be pretty short lived.

And when the price of homes suddenly turned south, quite a few people woke up worse off then when they started.

But I guess it was fun while it lasted. Granite counter-tops, Hummers, trips to Mexico, and your own cement pond out back.

Boy those were the days… too bad they had to end.

In that regard, here’s another story on the “New Normal”…

From Bloomberg by Chris Burritt entitled: Caulk Replaces Show Kitchen at Home Depot. Lowe’s

Dyane Townley craves new kitchen counters for her home in Greensboro, North Carolina. Husband Jeff, a Honda Aircraft Co. engineer, wants a bigger back deck. With money tight, the Townleys are putting those dreams on hold

Many Americans, having splurged on show kitchens, spa bathrooms and surround-sound media rooms during the housing boom, are doing the same. Spending on home renovation for the 12 months ending Sept. 30 will fall 25 percent to $107.7 billion compared with the same period in 2007, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

The pullback is hurting companies large and small — from Home Depot Inc. and Lowe’s Cos. to building contractors and interior design shops.

There are still consumers putting in new kitchens,” Robert Niblock, the chairman and chief executive officer of Lowe’s, said in a telephone interview. “But they’re doing it because they’re going to be in their homes longer. That’s the change from the go-go days.”

The highest unemployment rate since 1983 also is making Americans cautious about fixing up their homes, said Niblock, 47. Many homeowners are painting, caulking and re-carpeting, he said, and many are doing it themselves.

The Townleys, still trying to sell their previous house in Savannah, Georgia, are typical. They re-carpeted and repainted much of the inside of their blue, four-bedroom Greensboro home.

Anything we can do ourselves, we do because it’s cheaper,” said Dyane, 34. “We aren’t splurging on anything right now.”


An illusion and nothing more. That’s all it amounted to.

Sad but true….It’s funny how the times change.

Related Articles:

The Vocabulary of The New Normal

“Recession Haircuts” and the New Normal

The Hummer Collides With the New Normal

Notes From Recovery Summer

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