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Home Depot keeps focus on everyday low prices

In contrast to last year's holiday season featuring "a lineup of promotional events," this year The Home Depot will "focus on the basics of everyday low price, stronger and broader assortments and excellent service," said Carol Tome, executive vp and cfo, during the company's quarterly conference call last month.

Bob Nardelli, chairman, president and ceo, added that promotional activity now is offered on less than 5 percent of its assortment. "We'll manage our promotional calendar, but not put our price image at risk." And though the company eliminated much of its slower-moving merchandise last January with a clearance sale, Nardelli doesn't anticipate a repeat of that strategy. "Our inventory today is cleaner, fresher and has a higher velocity than we've had in many years."

The company will also continue in its effort to improve the shopping experience, he said, investing in new fixtures, maintenance, displays and visual merchandising, and management training. Over the third quarter, each store went through an average of 14 resets to implement such changes, though going forward the company said they will be less disruptive. The company also restocked with $1 billion worth of new products during the quarter, he said.

Next year, the company will introduce self-checkout stations to the stores, "making the shopping experience shorter, simpler and easier."

Increasing the direct import penetration is another company initiative, and the total has grown to 7 percent, up from 6 percent last year.

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