Home Depot CEO on the gradual housing recovery

In a wide-ranging interview on CNBC, Home Depot CEO Frank Blake said he expects 2013 sales to come in at about 3% ahead of 2012 -- about the same growth pace of 2012.

“We were pleased with 2012, and we had some great growth in 2012,” Blake said.

Blake said in the interview that an improving housing market recovery is important to Home Depot’s business, although the real key to Home Depot’s business is the overall GDP of the U.S. economy.

“Housing is getting better,” he said, pointing to several measures. 

He said the focus is on the customer, who has many choices across the home channel.  “We have lots of competitors in our markets across the store from lumberyards to paint stores,” Blake said in his CNBC interview. “We have a lot of competitors to worry about.” 

He also said the company can always lower costs. “There are always opportunities to improve store operations,” he said.