AHMA Confidence Index Improves in May
The American Hardware Manufacturers Association’s AHMA Home Improvement Industry Confidence Index’s Current Situation Index improved in May to 312.5 from 308.3 in April (October 2008 = 100), while the Future Expectations Index fell to 229.3 from 239.7.
In comparing current sales levels to year-ago levels, 75 percent of respondents said sales were higher in May versus year-ago levels, up from 74 percent in April. For May, 12 percent reported sales were even, and 12 percent said sales were below year-ago levels.
Looking forward six months, 62 percent of May respondents said they expect sales to be above current levels, the same as in April. In May, 25 percent of respondents said they expect sales to be even in six months and 12 percent expect sales to be below current levels.
Looking forward one year, 71 percent of respondents project sales will be higher, down from 77 percent who felt that way in April. Seventeen percent of May respondents project sales will be even one year from now and 12 percent project sales will be below current levels.
Other Monthly Economic Reports Show Mixed Results
Next month in this space, the June 2012 AHMA Home Improvement Industry Confidence Index will provide you with another timely indication of how your peers perceive the industry’s current situation and future prospects for growth. Please look for our online survey in your e-mail Tuesday, June 26 to participate and share with us your valuable insights. And thanks to all who have been responding to the online survey!
Retail sales of home improvement products (NAICS 444) fell 1.8 percent in April to $25.147 billion from $25.598 billion in March. Sales were up 10.3 percent from April 2011 levels. Advance estimates of all U.S. retail and food services sales for April, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $408.0 billion, an increase of 0.1 percent (±0.5%) from the previous month and 6.4 percent (±0.7%) above April 2011. Total sales for the February through April 2012 period were up 6.6 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago.
Existing-home sales rose in April and remain above a year ago, while home prices continued to rise, according to the National Association of Realtors. The improvements in sales and prices were broad based across all regions.
Total existing-home sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 3.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.62 million in April from a downwardly revised 4.47 million in March, and are 10.0 percent higher than the 4.20 million-unit level in April 2011.
Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the housing recovery is underway. “It is no longer just the investors who are taking advantage of high affordability conditions. A return of normal home buying for occupancy is helping home sales across all price points, and now the recovery appears to be extending to home prices,” he said. “The general downtrend in both listed and shadow inventory has shifted from a buyers’ market to one that is much more balanced, but in some areas it has become a seller’s market.”
Total housing inventory at the end of April rose 9.5 percent to 2.54 million existing homes available for sale, a seasonal increase which represents a 6.6-month supply at the current sales pace, up from a 6.2-month supply in March.
Sales of new single-family houses in April 2012 were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 343,000, according to estimates released jointly by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is 3.3 percent above the revised March rate of 332,000 and is 9.9 percent above the April 2011 estimate of 312,000.
The median sales price of new houses sold in April 2012 was $235,700; the average sales price was $282,600. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of April was 146,000. This represents a supply of 5.1 months at the current sales rate.
Privately-owned housing starts in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 717,000. This is 2.6 percent above the revised March estimate of 699,000 and is 29.9 percent above the revised April 2011 rate of 552,000, according to the latest Commerce Department report.
Single-family housing starts in April were at a rate of 492,000; this is 2.3 percent above the revised March figure of 481,000. The April rate for units in buildings with five units or more was 217,000.
Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 715,000. This is 7.0 percent below the revised March rate of 769,000, but is 23.7 percent above the revised April 2011 estimate of 578,000.
Single-family authorizations in April were at a rate of 475,000; this is 1.9 percent above the revised March figure of 466,000. Authorizations of units in buildings with five units or more were at a rate of 217,000 in April.
The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index, which had declined slightly in April, fell further in May. The Index now stands at 64.9 (1985=100), down from 68.7 in April. The Expectations Index declined to 77.6 from 80.4, while the Present Situation Index decreased to 45.9 from 51.2 last month.
Lynn Franco, Director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, said: "Consumer Confidence fell in May, following a slight decline in April. Consumers were less positive about current business and labor market conditions, and they were more pessimistic about the short-term outlook. However, consumers were more upbeat about their income prospects, which should help sustain spending. Taken together, the retreat in the Present Situation Index and softening in consumer expectations suggest that the pace of economic growth in the months ahead may moderate."