Home becomes priority post 9/11

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Not long after Sept. 11, a couple walked into the Kohler Co. Design Center in Kohler, Wis., where the maker of kitchen and bath fixtures is located. Instead of going on a planned trip abroad, they decided to take the money and renovate their bathrooms.

In the wake of 9/11, as personal habits such as nesting and cocooning have become more prevalent, so have home improvements and home security. Sales in the industry have taken off in the last six months as people have eschewed luxury purchases and travel in favor of addressing needs and concerns within the home.

"When you stay at home more, you start to notice problems around the house, and you start to fix them up," said nesting maven Martha Stewart.

At Lowe's Cos., parent of Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse, same-store sales (sales at stores open at least a year) were up 7.2% for the 13 weeks ended Feb. 1 vs. a year earlier. Same-store sales at rival Home Depot rose 5% for the quarter ended Feb. 3. That retailer posted record net income of $3 billion, up 18%.

Masco Corp., which makes faucets, cabinets, locks and other home-improvement products, reported fourth-quarter net sales up 22% to $2.1 billion over the same period in 2000. "After Sept. 11, one of the things you consistently read and hear about is people who are more focused on their homes," said Masco VP-Investor Relations Samuel "Skip" Cypert.

That includes making the home safer, as sales of home-security alarms are "up significantly," said an executive at Tyco International's ADT Home Security Systems.

"We are choosing not to be victims," said Thornton May, chief psychographer at Toffler Associates, futurist and consultant.

contributing: hillary chura

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