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The New York Times reports this morning that “while Home Depot has emerged from the credit crisis strong enough to borrow at attractive rates now, it has chosen not to do so. (CEO Frank) Blake has charted a course away from expansion, one that he holds out as a template for running a big company in post recession America. In his view, the hard times and the less generous credit are restricting consumption and undermining the corporate expansion that drove economic growth in recent years. The best response, he decided, is to focus on Home Depot’s most profitable core business: the existing retail outlets.

“If Mr. Blake is right, a streamlined Home Depot will emerge stronger than its rivals. And if he is wrong, the company could risk losing its dominant position as the nation’s favored shopping destination for do-it-your-selfers as well as contractors who build and refurbish homes.

“In fact, Home Depot’s closest competitor, Lowe’s, is taking the opposite tack, continuing to open outlets at a brisk clip in hopes of closing the gap with its much bigger rival.”

KC's View:
This gets to the core of what Michael Sansolo was writing about in his column, above. There is a new normal, and different companies are placing bets on how the economy and consumer spending are going to shake out.

I will say this. The last few times I have been in a Home Depot store I’ve found employees there to be more available and helpful that in past years…maybe that’s because they’re incentivizing employees differently, or maybe it is because there are fewer customers to serve. Whatever.

We won’t know for some time which bets pay off.