Mooresville, N.C. — Lowe’s, the No. 2 home-improvement chain, said sales and earning declined during the first quarter amid “intense” economic pressures on consumers.
Sales slipped 1.5 percent to $11.8 billion and net earnings fell 21.6 percent to $476 million for the three months ending May 1.
Comp-store sales dropped 6.6 percent during the period.
In a statement, Lowe’s chairman/CEO Robert Niblock attributed the downturn to a “difficult external environment” marked by wary consumers who continue to postpone big-ticket projects while closely tracking the economic climate and housing market.
Nevertheless, Niblock cited recent indications of stabilization in the home-improvement industry, including increasing consumer confidence, a bottoming in housing turnover in certain markets, a deceleration in home price declines, and relative strength in smaller, outdoor projects.
But “since many of these variables remain at or near historic lows, we will continue to plan conservatively and manage expenses appropriately,” he said.
During the quarter, Lowe’s opened 21 new stores for a total of 1,670 locations in the U.S. and Canada as of May 1. It plans to open upward of 70 stores during the current fiscal year.
Looking ahead, the company is projecting full-year sales to range from a decline of 2 percent to an increase of 1 percent amid comp-sale declines of 4 percent to 8 percent.