From the Record:
With remodeling in a slump, home improvement companies reached out to potential customers Sunday at the annual New Jersey Home Show at the Meadowlands Expo Center.
“It’s been slower for sure,” Gary Griffith, vice president of Roofing Sales Co. in East Rutherford, said at the show. “Contractors say they have a lot of estimates out there. People are thinking about having work done, but I don’t think they’re ready to let go of the money.”
Roofing Sales Co., which sells building supplies to contractors, recently laid off three workers — the first layoffs in its 87-year history.
The company’s experiences are being repeated around the nation. Spending on home renovations dropped around 12 percent in 2008, according to a recent study by Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, which predicted that spending will continue to decline this year.
“Uncertainty in the housing market continues to stifle spending on homeowner improvements,” said Nicolas P. Retsinas, the center’s director. “In light of escalating job losses, consumers are reluctant to undertake major remodeling projects.”
“People are holding on to their money,” agreed Hector D. Castro, sales manager of Professional Carpet Co. in Hackensack and Wayne, which also exhibited at the show.
Customers who might have spent $2,000 to $3,000 to replace their carpet are now spending $500 to $600 to clean it instead, he said.
The steep decline in the number of home sales — down almost 40 percent in New Jersey since the peak in 2005 — also means a big drop in the number of carpets being ripped up and replaced, Castro said.
“Anytime the housing market suffers, everything inside the house suffers,” he said.
Both Griffith and Castro said they hope business will pick up in the spring, a traditionally busy time in the home renovation industry. They also said they hope the economic stimulus package will make Americans less anxious about spending.