retail industry

DIY a bright spot for consumer spending

Agence France-Presse

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DIY a bright spot for consumer spending

A shopper browses a household goods store in Berlin, Germany, on April 22, 2020. - Shops with a surface of up to 800 square meters were allowed to open in Berlin, on April 22. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP)


Data shows consumers worldwide are cutting back on clothing and shoes, but spending more to improve their homes

Many retailers have been caught off-guard by coronavirus restrictions and shifting consumer habits, but DIY stores are enjoying a boom as people spend money on their homes and gardens.

A recent report by consulting group McKinsey found that faced with a prolonged period of financial uncertainty due to the pandemic, consumers “intend to continue shifting their spending largely to essentials…and cutting back on most discretionary categories.”

Data has shown consumers worldwide are cutting back on clothing and shoes, but spending more to improve their homes.

In Britain, the sector has helped consumer spending overall to rebound to a level higher than before the pandemic hit.

“Spending for home improvements continued to rise in August as sales volumes within household goods stores increased by 9.9% when compared with February,” Britain’s Office for National Statistics said this month.

This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, as people are spending more time at home, and even when not under lockdown, many people are working from home or have fewer public activities to participate in.

‘Decade of the home’

A recent survey carried out in 20 countries by consulting firm Accenture found that over two-thirds of respondents expect most of their social activities will take place at their home or that of a friend.

The unease and concern that many people now feel in public spaces may push a lasting shift towards people spending more time at home, with Accenture even calling it a “decade of the home.”

Certainly many Germans have used coronavirus downtime to “repair, refurbish, and decorate their homes,” the country’s BHB trade association for home improvement, building, and gardening said in a recent report.

Sales in the sector rose by 15.6% year-on-year to nearly 12 billion euros ($14 billion) over the 1st half of 2020, boosted by the fact that many DIY stores and garden centers were allowed to stay open during virus lockdowns.

Paint and painting accessories proved most popular, according to the trade body, with sales climbing by 37.6%.

Garden furniture was another favorite, it said, seeing a 21% sales jump.

‘Focus on the home’

DIY retailers have been reporting surging sales.

A major DIY chain in the United States, Lowe’s, saw comparable sales rise by 34.2% in its 2nd quarter that ended on July 31 – a period when restrictions were still in place in some states.

“Sales were driven by a consumer focus on the home, core repair and maintenance activities, and wallet share shift away from other discretionary spending,” said the company’s chief executive officer Marvin Ellison when announcing the results.

Kingfisher, which has several DIY and home furnishing chains in France, Britain, and Ireland, said that after an initial dip, sales quickly recovered and are still rising.

“The COVID-19 crisis touched our sales in the 1st quarter, but we saw a strong rebound in the 2nd, a trend which is continuing in the 3rd quarter at all of our chains and in all segments,” said Kingfisher CEO Thierry Garnier.

Consumers have shifted a lot of their buying online, a trend that is helping ManoMano, an online-only French DIY retailer.

“In February, we were at 50 million euros in sales volume and in April, we were at 200 million, so you see the acceleration,” the site’s cofounder Christian Raisson told Agence France-Presse.

“We’ll more than double the 620 million euros in sales we had last year.” –

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