Home Depot Inc., the largest home improvement chain in the United States, has issued a profit forecast for 2023 that falls below Wall Street expectations. The company has been dealing with rising costs and a tighter labor market, as well as a dwindling demand for home improvement products due to soaring inflation. Home Depot’s shares dropped more than 4% in pre-market trading after the company reported a surprise drop in fourth-quarter comparable sales.
Declining Demand and Strained Housing Market
The demand for home improvement tools such as paint and flooring surged during the pandemic, but it is now cooling off as consumers cut back on spending. Home Depot saw a 0.3% drop in fourth-quarter comparable sales, which was lower than analysts’ average estimate of a 0.56% increase. Lowe’s Cos Inc, Home Depot’s smaller rival, also experienced a share drop after Home Depot’s pessimistic forecast, given the strained U.S. housing market.
Challenging 2023 Ahead
Wall Street analysts have warned that home improvement chains, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s, may face a challenging 2023. Contractor sales dropped in December from the previous month, with about 40% of contractors saying that backlogs were getting weaker heading into the new year, according to a survey by Wells Fargo analysts.
Elevated Costs and Tight Labor Market
Despite implementing cost control measures, Home Depot is experiencing elevated costs across its supply chain. The tight labor market in the United States has led the company to invest more in employee wages and benefits, further increasing expenses. To retain and attract frontline hourly associates, Home Depot plans to spend an additional $1 billion in annualized compensation beginning in the first quarter of 2023.
Flat Sales Growth
Home Depot has predicted that sales growth for 2023 will be flat compared to the fiscal year 2022. Analysts had anticipated a 0.4% increase to $16.72, according to Refinitiv data. The company’s lower profit outlook for the year is expected to decrease by a mid-single-digit percentage.
The decreasing demand for home improvement products and a tighter labor market have made 2023 a challenging year for Home Depot. Home Depot’s lower-than-expected profit outlook for the year is a result of higher expenses and a decrease in demand for home improvement products due to soaring inflation. To retain and attract hourly associates, the company has committed to an additional $1 billion in annualized compensation starting from Q1 2023. The predicted flat sales growth for 2023 implies a bumpy road ahead for Home Depot and other home improvement chains.