Retailing Shelter from the Recession

As summer starts, Home Depot leads a fix-up boom by taking the angst out of buying do-it-yourself wares

In the dismal U.S. retailing industry, home-improvement centers that sell everything from kitchen cabinets to grass seed have been a notable bright spot. Spurred by the spreading do-it-yourself itch, sales at the sprawling emporiums grew more than 10% a year in the 1980s, while retailing in general grew only about 6%. Even the stormy economy has held a silver lining for some companies, since people tend to fix up their homes rather than buy new ones during a downturn.

As consumers launch summer fix-up projects, many are heading for megastores run by Atlanta-based Home Depot, the do-it-yourself industry's hottest star. Home...

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