CGP is bullish on home improvement

A forecast from Customer Growth Partners, a New Canaan, Conn.-based research and consulting firm, is predicting home-related retailers will show the strongest growth in 2011.

CGP President Craig Johnson also predicted Home Depot and Lowe's will have their best fourth quarter performances since 2006 when they release their earnings Feb. 22 and Feb. 23, respectively.

As a whole, retail will grow 5.1% in 2011, a pace that would be the strongest in five years. "Although retail is the Rodney Dangerfield of industries -- getting little respect compared to the tech and other sectors -- in fact, retail is by far the nation's largest employer, with over 18% of total payrolls, more than tech, media and health combined," said CGP President Craig Johnson.

The reason for Johnson's optimism? Four years of pent-up demand and depressed sales levels during the housing slump, according to CGP. Plus, very strong growth in holiday growth showed people are spending again.

Johnson added that no industry suffered more job losses during the recession that retail, which lost 1.2 million jobs over the past three years. Although Retail sector employment will still lag 2007’s peak levels, the sector will add some 600,000 jobs, about half the number lost during the recession.

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