Hechinger's sales fall 7.2 percent

November 08, 1996|By Liz Bowie | Liz Bowie,SUN STAFF

Still suffering from intense competition, Hechinger Co.'s sales dropped more last month than any so far this year.

The Largo-based home improvement chain said yesterday that October sales fell by 7.2 percent for all stores, and 9.6 percent for stores that have been open more than a year -- a key barometer of performance -- compared with the same month last year.

Richard S. Gross, the company's controller, attributed some of the decline to Hechinger's decision to extend an annual kitchen and sales promotion into November.

"Most people typically end up purchasing in the end of the event rather than at the beginning," he said.

"I hope that things will pick up as we go forward," he said.

But retail analyst Kenneth Gassman said, "The company still has a lot of work to do before it gets on track and gets sales back up to positive."

It is still making a lot of merchandising changes and "is still in transition as it tries to recapture the market share that it lost to the big box stores," said Gassman, an analyst with Davenport & Co. in Richmond, Va.

Hechinger has faced intense competition, especially from Home Depot Inc., the huge national chain that entered the market several years ago.

Sales for the third quarter ended Nov. 2 were $533 million compared with $549 million last year. Same store sales were down 4.8 percent.

For the first nine months of the year, total sales were $1.76 billion, compared with $1.75 billion, an increase of .5 percent. But same-store sales were down 3 percent.

Pub Date: 11/08/96

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