"We still have plenty of runway left," said Evan Gold, senior vice president of client services at Planalytics, a consulting firm that analyzes the effect of weather on consumer demand. "We just need a normal snap for things to pop."
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Home improvement sales typically begin picking up volume in late February or early March, and the push tends to culminate in May, said UBS analyst Michael Lasser. Both Home Depot and Lowe's last year posted about 30 percent of their sales from May to August. That means the cold snap shouldn't weigh too heavily on retailers' top line.
At the UBS Global Consumer Conference on Thursday, Lowe's indicated that while spring purchases appear to be delayed among shoppers, sales have picked up on days when the weather was nice. That likely indicates pent-up demand, Gold said.
He added that the weather in areas such as Florida—where spring sales tend to pick up sooner—has been significantly warmer than last year, when the state experienced its fifth coldest March.
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As such, Planalytics predicts sales will pick up toward the end of the month, creating a 5 percent sales boost for the lawn and garden category, led by the Southeast region.
"A lot of the sales in March, especially the early part, come from the Southeast and the Southwest... and they've already popped," Gold said.
According to industry research firm IBISWorld, the home improvement industry is expected to grow its revenue at an annualized rate of 2.2 percent for the five years leading to 2014, reaching $143.6 billion. Home Depot and Lowe's—which together make up about 90 percent of the home improvement market—both sounded a bullish note on 2014, after bucking the industry trend and posting positive same-store sales figures for the fourth quarter.
Both retailers cited an improving housing market—characterized by an increase in home ownership and home values—as sales drivers.