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Home Improvement Stores Feel Pinch as Renovations Dip

September 05, 2000|Daryl Strickland | Daryl Strickland covers real estate for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5670 and at daryl.strickland@latimes.com

If it's easier to find a parking spot at home improvement stores in Orange County, there's good reason.

Through July, county residents spent nearly $130.2 million on home renovations, down about 6% from the first seven months last year, according to the Construction Industry Research Board, a Burbank real estate research firm.

In 1999, as home prices for a rising number of owners exceeded pre-recession peaks, renovations in Orange County hit a decade-high. But the momentum declined, as some stores noticed slowing sales as early as the first quarter.

Business had been a bit sluggish at B&C Custom Hardware and Bath in Laguna Hills, which stocks such items as fancy faucets and jetted tubs. But sales have begun to pick up in the last two months, owner Rebecca Whiteleathersaid.

"When the stock market dips, our foot traffic slows down," she said. With the stock market regaining momentum, sales have surged again, making her believe that annual revenues may exceed last year's total.

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