Housing lift triggers buzz for hardware and bulky goods

The improving residential sector has proved a trigger for new home owners and renovators to hit the hardware and bulky goods shops for everything from hammers and paint to couches and washing machines.

The improving residential sector has proved a trigger for new home owners and renovators to hit the hardware and bulky goods shops for everything from hammers and paint to couches and washing machines.

In turn, demand for these brick and mortar assets is also rising as reflected in the high turnover in sales by Australian and international super funds and private trusts.

In the retail sales data for August, released last week, hardware stores and supplies performed strongly, up 5.6 per cent, against declines in department stores and the hard-hit apparel.

The rises in August continued the positive trends of recent months - 4 per cent in July, 3.6 per cent in June, 5.2 per cent in May and, thanks to the Easter break, a larger 7.5 per cent in April.

According to Stephen McNabb, the head of research for Australia at CBRE, bulky goods centre transactions represented more than $600 million of the $1.5 billion of retail transactions in the quarter, the second largest quarter since 2007.

"Improvements in domestic housing fundamentals and a re-acceleration of population growth are expected to support rent growth within the bulky goods sector in the latter half of 2014 (in most states), following a generally soft environment in recent years," he said in the group's latest results for the third quarter of 2013.

"These expectations may support further sales activity and a stabilised to improved outlook for yields in the sector, relative to 'prime' retail assets."

One of the larger sales of assets was by Charter Hall of Home HQ Nunawading for $48 million to the private Arkadia investment group.

The Australian head of retail investments at Jones Lang LaSalle, Simon Rooney, who advised Charter Hall on the sale, said yields in the bulky goods sector remained high by historical standards, and offered investors potentially attractive returns for those willing to move up the risk curve and take a counter-cyclical position.

"Major players include Brett Blundy (BBRC), Arkadia, Sentinel and more recently Altis and Blackstone," Mr Rooney said.

According to Jones Lang LaSalle Research, the drivers of the bulky goods sector are improving. It says the cuts to official interest rates are positive for a recovery in residential construction, which is a key driver of the performance of the bulky goods market, and also have positive implications for the broader retail sector.

At Moelis & Co, the economist John Barrett said there was a definite correlation between house sales and a rise in demand for retail, including bulky goods.

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