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Both Home Depot and Lowe’s this week have posted declining sales and earnings, and the two home-improvement leaders are also cutting back plans this year for new stores. Home Depot is cutting its new stores from earlier expectations of 100 to 35, while Lowe’s cut its units by 20, with 120 new locations in the works.Executives at both chains don’t seem to see any near-term light at the end of the tunnel, either. Lowe’s is forecasting a 5% to 6% same-store sales decline for the year, while Home Depot executives see a mid-to-high-single-digit comparable decline.With the housing market in such a decline, this is not surprising. But are there any indicators that these companies’ fortunes could change this year? Also, are there any ways these chains could combat the current market conditions and improve their situations?

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