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Confidence index climbs in June

30 June 2020
By the Numbers, Retail

OTTAWA – Consumer confidence continued to improve in June and now sits at roughly two-thirds of its pre-pandemic level, the Conference Board of Canada reported just prior to the Canada Day holiday.

The board reported the Index of Consumer Confidence (ICC) climbed 16 points over May’s result to 79.7 for June, compared to 120.6 when the pandemic was declared in early March. However, it’s down substantially from the 121.0 recorded on 01 July 2019. The index was set to 100 in 2014.

Conference Board of Canada economist Anna Feng said consumer confidence improved across all regions of the country in June with British Columbia logging the largest uptick this month while Ontario posted the smallest. “Sentiment about future employment improved this month across all regions as provinces begin to re-open,” she noted in her report, adding the share of Canadians expecting better job prospects in the next six months increased to 18.7%, its highest rate since March 2010.

The Index of Consumer Confidence. Chart courtesy of the Conference Board of Canada.In what amounts to good news for furniture, mattress and appliance retailers, the optimism in employment prospects prompted a significant upswing in positive to the major purchases question. The number of Canadians who believe now is a good time to make a major purchase rose to 20.4% in June, up from 5.8% in May – its lowest level ever.

“On the flip side,” Feng cautioned, “Canadians are still cautious about making major outlays. More people feel pessimistic about making a major purchase now (57.5%) than during the peak of the 2008 financial crisis (54.3%).”

June’s ICC showed Ontarians are more concerned about their financial situation this month compared with May. Fewer are enthusiastic about their current finances and optimism about future finances barely improved. “As a result, more than 63% of Ontarians believe now to be a bad time for major purchases, the highest rate among the provinces,” Feng said.

Quebec’s index climbed 22.5 points this month, the second-largest increase in the country. The province has the highest share of people who feel positive about both current and future finances. “Thus, it’s not surprising that the province also has the most optimism this month about spending on big-ticket items,” Feng observed.

The index for Saskatchewan–Manitoba rose 13.8 points in June, the second-smallest increase among regions. Canadians here are anxious about their future finances and the share feeling optimistic about them fell 1.7 percentage this month.

Meanwhile, Alberta posted the third-largest increase in confidence as sentiment around future labour and economic conditions strengthened. The board noted the recent production cut by OPEC and its allies significantly boosted prices, sparking some optimism about Alberta’s oil sector after the price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia gutted oil prices. “As a result, Albertans are more optimistic about future employment than they have been in over a year (17.2%) and their pessimism about making major purchases has declined to pre-COVID-19 levels,” Feng said.

British Columbia topped the chart in June with the largest increase in the Index of Consumer Confidence across Canada. “The province is approaching the third phase of its plan to reopen its economy, and people there are the most optimistic in the country about future labour conditions,” Feng said, adding residents are still deeply worried about their current finances.

The Atlantic provinces had the slowest recovery in the index, which is still almost 60 points shy of its pre-pandemic level. The index showed while sentiments about future employment strengthened, people are unsure of their future finances.

“Consumer confidence rose in all provinces this month,” Feng said. “Overall, the increase means that the Index of Consumer Confidence has recovered half of its COVID-19-induced losses. Consumers are more optimistic about future job projects but also more concerned about current finances. This has encouraged households to be cautious about major purchases in the near term.”

ZucoraHome introduces virus blocking mattress protector

30 June 2020
Mattresses, Products

LONDON, Ontario – ZucoraHome has added OmniGuard Advance, a fabric recently certified as effective in blocking viruses such as COVID-19, to its assortment of mattress and fabric protectors. The assortment is part of the bedding essential collection manufactured by PureCare, who whom the added-value resource is the sole Canadian distributor.

“PureCare is recognized in the bedding industry for using technical textiles to enhance the health and wellness of the sleep environment,” ZurcoraHome president and chief executive officer Brad Geddes said in a statement. “The OmniGuard Advance fabric serves as the base fabric throughout our collection of premium, clinically proven mattress, and pillow protectors. This fabric has now attained Vartest certification that meets ASTM F1671 viral penetration testing standard for resistance to bloodborne pathogens. This certification adds another layer of scientific validation to this product line for retailers and customers who are looking for cleaner, more hygienic sleep products.”

ZucoraHome has launched OmniGuard Advance from PureCare, a fabric recently certified as effective in blocking viruses such as COVID-19, to its assortment of mattress and fabric protectors.The ASTM F1671 test method established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention determines whether a fabric can block Phi-X174 bacteriophage, a virus that is about 32 nanometers in diameter. COVID-19 is approximately 125 nanometers in diameter.

“PureCare has a long history of working with a variety of wellness experts and laboratories who clinically test our products in order to ensure the transparency and accuracy of all of our claims,” adds Sean Bergman, chief operating officer of PureCare, which is based in Phoenix, Arizona.

Introducing the product, Geddes said the OmniGuard Advance fabric has a unique microdot design that allows it to be washed and dried on hot for complete sanitization. It is also treated with antimicrobial silver chloride to inhibit bacteria, mold and mildew, all of which cause odours, stains and deterioration.

He also noted PureCare branded products are warrantied and Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified which indicates it is free from harmful chemicals and safe for human use. These features have helped PureCare’s protector collection earn the endorsement of the National Sleep Foundation and the Women’s Choice Award.

Health Canada has designated PureCare bedding products with Celliant as Class 1 Medical Devices. 

Samsung, LG, Home Depot named 2020 Energy Star winners

29 June 2020
Appliances, Events, Products

OTTAWA – Samsung Electronics Canada (SEC) was been named the winner of the Energy Star Canada Award for Sustained Excellence for 2020. LG Electronics Canada was named the program’s Appliance Manufacturer of the Year while Home Depot Canada received the Retailer of the Year honour.

For the past 19 years, the Energy Star program has been organised by Natural Resources Canada (NRC) as a voluntary partnership between the federal government and more than 1,500 business and utilities across the country working to adapt and promote greater energy efficiency.

NRC said behind each Energy Star label is a product, home or building which has been independently certified to use less energy and reduce emissions contributing to climate change.

Samsung Electronics Canada was named the winner of the 2020 Energy Star Award for Sustained Excellence by its organiser, Natural Resources Canada. The award highlights the company’s commitment to advancing energy efficiency in the electronics and appliances (such as the kitchen group and laundry pair show above) to consumers in this country.While this is the first time SEC has won the Sustained Excellence honour, it is no stranger to the program, having been named Appliance Manufacturer of the Year for three consecutive years (2017, 2018, 2019) and Electronics Manufacturer of the Year in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. It was also named Most Efficient Promoter in 2015.

“At Samsung, we believe in personalized technology that understands and supports the lifestyle of Canadians and benefits their bottom line, helping their finances go further,” SEC senior vice president of consumer electronics Warner Doell said in a statement. “We are steadfast in our commitment to core technologies and innovations that have a profound and positive impact on the spaces in which we live, and the environment.”

NRC noted SEC has been an Energy Star participant since 2003 praised the global appliance and electronics producer saying in “develops eco-friendly solutions and proudly promotes its products as among the most energy efficient options available for consumers and businesses.”

The company was cited for a 24% increase in the number of Energy Star certified appliance models available for sale to Canadian consumers in the past year, while noting 100% of its dishwashers, 87% of its refrigerators, 95% of its washing machines and 45% of its dryers carry the label.

In naming LG Electronics Canada as 2020 Appliance Manufacturer of the Year, NRC noted the company had a 10% increase the number of sustainable home appliance models offered to Canadian consumers and recorded some 15 million media impressions promoting its Energy Star certified products.

Believed to be this country’s largest single major appliance retailer, Home Depot Canada was named Retailer of the Year for the seventh consecutive year and its tenth year since joining the program in 2001.

In making the award, the program noted the 182-unit home improvement giant had a significant increase in unit sales of Energy Star certified appliances in 2019.

More information is available about the Energy Star program on its web site (click here to view).

Home promotes Szekszer

29 June 2020
People, Retail

ST. JACOBS, Ontario – Home Hardware Stores has announced the promotion of Rob Szekszer to vice president of merchandise hardlines effective immediately. He was previous director of merchandise hardlines.

“The appointment of Rob Szekszer demonstrates the expertise and deep bench of talent we continue to develop at Home Hardware, and I have complete confidence in his ability to deliver on our business and growth strategies,” Home Hardware senior vice president of merchandiser Marianne Thompson said in a statement. “His passion for retail, coupled with his understanding of home improvement category management and our end-to-end business, make him well positioned to lead our hardlines teams to a strong future.”

Rob SzekszerThe retailer-owned co-operative said Szekszer is “an accomplished business executive and proven leader who empowers his teams to think differently, drive change and achieve results. His leadership, retail category management and business acumen will help lead operational and strategic initiatives on the hardlines team.”

Szekszer has nearly 25 years of experience in the home improvement retail industry, holding key executive roles. Prior to joining Home Hardware, Rob held vice president and director roles at Canadian Tire Financial Services and Canadian Tire Retail in product marketing, credit card marketing, customer acquisition and new business development as well as category advertising.

“Home Hardware is an iconic Canadian company and I am thrilled to lead our hardlines team,” Szekszer said. “There is a tremendous opportunity to leverage our data-driven insights to provide best-in-class assortments in our stores. I look forward to continue working with the team to support our dealers so that we can be the most trusted and preferred home improvement retail brand.”

In his new role, Szekszer will report to Thompson.

Based here, Home Hardware Stores operates some 1,100 stores under the Home Hardware, Home Building Centre, Home Hardware Building Centre and Home Furniture banners.

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