Modest improvement for U.S. and Canadian independent retailers characterized the first quarter of 2011, according to the PDRA Pulse Report. Fueled by growing consumer confidence, sales performance grew slightly by 0.3 percent in the United States and 0.2 percent in Canada.
The increase was paced by improving sales in window coverings and paint, while wallcoverings and sundry products still lagged behind first-quarter sales from last year. The South experienced the best sales gain, followed by the Midwest and Canada. The West and Northeast continued to be in the red for the first quarter.
Factors to watch for in the coming months include sales of both new and existing homes, which continue to be volatile (up one month, down the next). Housing sales are major contributors to the overall health of independent paint and decorating stores. Another factor to consider is the weather, which experienced a volatility of its own kind during the months of April and May. In additional to violent thunderstorms, tornadoes and floods throughout much of the Midwest, the weather remained wet enough to forestall some of the planned outdoor painting projects. Just how that affects a potential rebound in retail sales will be more apparent in our next report.
The Pulse Report is a product of the PDRA Research Department. You can take a look at the complete report here.