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Lumber Liquidators March sales tumble 18%

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NEW YORK — Lumber Liquidators sales plummeted 17.8% last month following a news report that some of its wood flooring contained toxic chemicals.

About 10,000 customers had requested the free air-quality test kits that Lumber Liquidators offered to those who had bought the wood, the company said Thursday.

The company came under fire in a March 1 “60 Minutes” report that claimed laminated flooring imported from China contained high levels of formaldehyde, a carcinogen.

Shortly after the show aired, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said it was investigating the flooring. The agency said if it found a safety problem it would ask the company to recall the flooring.

U.S.-made flooring sold by the company was found to be safe, according to the CBS report. But hundreds of thousands of homes nationwide had already installed the Chinese-made flooring from Lumber Liquidators.

The company said March sales were “significantly weaker” than January and February because of the “unfavorable allegations.”

The news report also affected its sales of other kinds of flooring, including bamboo, vinyl plank and cork.

Despite the March drop, the company’s overall sales for the first quarter of the year rose 5.6% to $260 million, compared to the same period last year.

Lumber Liquidators, which operated 356 stores, has insisted that its product is safe and that it will continue to sell the Chinese-made laminate flooring. The company has said it is is cooperating with the consumer agency’s probe.