No improvement in home improvement

A Home Depot sign from a store in Los Angeles, Calif.

TEXT OF STORY

Steve Chiotakis: Today, Home Depot comes out with second-quarter earnings. The country's top home-improvement chain will be the other "work boot" to drop, if you will. That's after rival Lowes offered up worse-than-expected earnings yesterday -- down nearly 20 percent from one year ago. Marketplace's Mitchell Hartman has more.


Mitchell Hartman: After reports that home-builders are starting to build, and home-buyers starting to buy, it seems a bit surprising that sales at home improvement stores aren't picking up. Investment manager Michael Farr says consumers are still in a no-spending funk. The evidence: Lowe's cash register receipts.

MICHAEL FARR: Most of the ticket items were right around $50. So for painting and for smaller jobs, people were doing it themselves. The big-ticket things, countertops and bath fixtures, consumers not buying.

Debbie KITCHIN: Our purchases are down significantly.

Contractors like Debbie Kitchin of Portland, Ore., aren't ringing up big supply purchases either. Her company, Interworks LLC, does everything from basement to bathroom remodels. But customers haven't wanted many of those lately. Instead, they're calling about...

KITCHIN: Things that they pretty much have to do, rather than things that are deferrable or that are on their wish list.

Until homeowners get back to that wish list, don't expect to see much "improvement" in the home-improvement market.

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.

About the author

Mitchell Hartman is the senior reporter for Marketplace’s Entrepreneurship Desk and also covers employment.

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