US DIY spending as a percentage of America’s GDP is at its lowest in 60 years, Home Depot boss Frank Blake said.

However, the retailer expects a smaller fall in annual earnings than previously feared. Originally a decline of 7 per cent was forecast but it is now expected to be “less severe” or even flat. Blake said that reduced costs are offsetting falling sales during the downturn.

After the housing market recovers, Blake is aiming for a long-term operating margin target of 10 per cent.

Separately, a former Home Depot buyer has been sentenced to six and a half years imprisonment for receiving kickbacks from suppliers.