Hardware Retailing

FEB 2018

Hardware Retailing magazine is the pre-eminent how-to management magazine for small business owners and managers in the home improvement retailing industry.

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HARDWARE RETAILING | February 2018 64 I f your business doesn't have an online presence, you're not prepared for the future. That sentiment was a strong takeaway from the North American Retail Hardware Association's (NRHA) third annual State of Independents Conference, held Dec. 7 in Chicago. The daylong event provided independent retailers, manufacturers and other channel supporters the opportunity to learn from brand new research showing the state of the home improvement industry and where independents fit in. At this year's event, which was sponsored by the National Hardware Show ® , NRHA addressed an ever-present challenge for independent retailers: online competition. Each year, NRHA surveys retailers prior to the conference, asking them what their top challenges are to growth in the short and long term. In this year's data, for the first time, most retailers selected online competition as one of their biggest challenges to growth. More than 30 percent of survey respondents say online retailers are their biggest competitors, ranking them ahead of brick-and-mortar big-box stores such as Home Depot and Lowe's. Finding the right employees was the second-most common issue, which was the most common response in the two previous years this research was fielded. In line with the challenge of hiring, more than 36 percent of respondents selected personnel development as the most important area to invest for business growth. Despite these obstacles, independent retailers are optimistic about the future. In fact, 81 percent of survey respondents predict sales growth in 2018, up from 72 percent who predicted sales growth in 2017. Redefining Service 2017 State of Independents Conference Explores Opportunities for Retailers By Melanie Moul, mmoul@nrha.org

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