CHICAGO (AP) — Retailers who get a chunk of their business from new homeowners may feel like empty nesters in coming months with the recent boost to sales from the government's homebuyer tax credit fading in the rearview mirror.

THE OPINION: KeyBanc Capital markets analyst Bradley Thomas told investors that the nation's housing market will continue to ride the tax-credit wave through 2010, but next year has the investment bank "increasingly cautious" about companies that furnish goods to spruce up homes.

"We expect home-related spending to slow and believe investor sentiment for our coverage may continue to weaken," he wrote in a research note published Monday.

As many has half of all home sales in recent months have involved buyers cashing in on the $8,000 credit for first-time home buyers, courtesy of Uncle Sam.

That's been good news for stores like The Home Depot Inc., Lowe's Cos. Inc. and Bed Bath & Beyond, because people who are buying or selling homes leave those stores with shopping carts filled to the brim.

THE STOCK: Shares of many home-related companies have fallen in recent months. Thomas believes they may fall further. The tax credit expired in April and that money is drying up.

On Monday, stocks for Home Depot, Lowe's and Bed Bath & Beyond were mixed.

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