Housing Decline Drags Home Depot’s First Quarter Profit Down 66 Percent

Atlanta–Home improvement retailer Home Depot announced a 66 percent quarterly profit decline Tuesday because the housing slump caused it to close stores and reduce expansion, the New York Times reports.Atlanta-based Home Depot’s earnings dropped from $1.05 billion in 2007 to $356 million in the quarter ending May 4. The company is closing 15 stores and eliminated plans to launch 50 new locations, which cost it $543 million.Total sales declined 3.4 percent to $17.9 billion; sales at stores open more than a year dropped 6.5 percent.The average purchase at Home Depot slid 2.8 percent to $57.36 in the first quarter, and overall customer transactions dropped 1.3 percent.”The housing and home improvement markets remained difficult in the first quarter; in fact, conditions worsened in many areas of the country,” Home Depot chairman of Frank Blake said in a statement.