COVID Summary 2020 Insights HERO

COVID-19 Summary: 2020 Insights From the Tracker

Jun 29, 2020

The Home Improve­ment Research Insti­tute (HIRI) and The Farnsworth Group part­nered up for the past three months to con­duct essen­tial research regard­ing project requests and clo­sures, home­own­er DIY pur­chas­es, con­trac­tor busi­ness, and mate­ri­als sup­ply trends in the wake of COVID-19

As this is an unprece­dent­ed time, we have been work­ing dili­gent­ly to pro­vide this essen­tial home improve­ment research to bet­ter under­stand COVID influ­ence on home improve­ment and equip our mem­bers with the knowl­edge they need to fore­cast and pre­pare for future business.

DIY Tracker

Have you started any new DIY projects

DIY projects have been a major mar­ket-dri­ver dur­ing this time. Since mid-March, home­own­ers have been at home more often and have had more free time. This is impact­ing their home DIY project deci­sions, whether that’s ini­ti­at­ing a new project or com­ple­tion of an ongo­ing project.

A few trends have cropped up over the past three months, with data show­ing that over 60% of DIY­ers are focus­ing more on their homes than oth­er expen­di­tures pre-COVID-19. These DIY trends appear to be dri­ven by younger gen­er­a­tions (mil­len­ni­als and Gen‑X) and across the major­i­ty of the U.S. (with the Mid­west being the excep­tion). Old­er gen­er­a­tion home­own­ers, how­ev­er, are spend­ing less.

Free Time

Impact of COVID19 on DIY Projects

A major fac­tor in DIY trends is home­own­ers’ free time. Because they are at home more often and many are shift­ing their employ­ment to work-from-home pro­to­cols, this leaves more time for their home projects.

Fur­ther, because home­own­ers are home more often, the need to improve their homes is front and cen­ter. This is lead­ing to a steady increase in DIY­ers either con­tin­u­ing projects or ini­ti­at­ing new projects.


How did COVID19 stop projects

Home­own­ers now have more dis­pos­able income as they have not been trav­el­ing, retail shop­ping or absorb­ing enter­tain­ment expens­es (such as eat­ing out at restau­rants or going to the movies). Many home­own­ers have start­ed new projects over the past three months because they have freed up equi­ty.

For home­own­ers who already had projects start­ed, COVID-19 has gen­er­al­ly not stopped them from work­ing towards project com­ple­tion. For those who did can­cel project plans, their main con­cern was finan­cials, fol­lowed close­ly by inabil­i­ty to get the mate­ri­als they needed.

Purchasing Trends

Where did you purchase home improvement products

While home­own­ers are begin­ning to pur­chase in-store as restric­tions are lift­ed, online pur­chas­ing con­tin­ues to remain robust due to home­own­ers’ con­cerns over health and safe­ty. Fur­ther­more, their deci­sion to embark on DIY projects and for­go hir­ing a con­trac­tor is also part­ly anchored in health and safe­ty con­cerns, as many home­own­ers expressed fear over con­trac­tors and oth­er indus­try indi­vid­u­als enter­ing their homes.

Types of Projects

Which DIY projects are you starting

The types of DIY projects home­own­ers are embark­ing on are gen­er­al­ly even­ly dis­trib­uted with the excep­tion of small-item refur­bish­ment, paint­ing and stain­ing. Most of the work is being done on the home direct­ly, such as room paint­ing, elec­tri­cal, plumb­ing and HVAC.

Com­plex jobs, like the ones that would nor­mal­ly have gone to con­trac­tors, are being com­plet­ed by home­own­ers out of health and safe­ty con­cerns regard­ing con­trac­tors enter­ing their home.

Pro Tracker

The degree of con­cern indus­try pro­fes­sion­als have expe­ri­enced since COVID-19 began is begin­ning to lessen.

Delays and can­cel­la­tions still exist, as do employ­er and con­trac­tor con­cerns about the health and safe­ty of their work­ers. How­ev­er, project qual­i­ty and sizes are rebound­ing with over 50% of pro­fes­sion­als say­ing their recent project sizes are the same or larg­er than pre-COVID-19.

Con­trac­tors and oth­er indus­try pro­fes­sion­als expressed shop­ping online most­ly out of neces­si­ty because their local retail­ers are out of stock. Because of this, sup­pli­ers and man­u­fac­tur­ers must be cog­nizant of con­trac­tors’ needs, which have changed over the last three months.

Over­all, the avail­abil­i­ty of mate­ri­als is the dri­ving issue going forward.

Impact of COVID on Workflow

Has Pro work been delayed

Most indus­try pro­fes­sion­als expressed mild to mod­er­ate impact on their work­flow as a result of COVID, with the major­i­ty (over 80%) of work hav­ing been delayed or stopped entire­ly. The pri­ma­ry rea­son for this delay and stop­page was on the home­own­ers’ end being con­cerns over health and safe­ty, and finances. Most indus­try pro­fes­sion­als expressed this work to be ceased any­where from one to three months, with a small­er major­i­ty who expressed con­cerns of over three months stop­page.

As a result of busi­ness trends, rough­ly half of indus­try com­pa­nies have expe­ri­enced lay­offs, the rea­son for which was over­whelm­ing­ly COVID-related.

Contractor Concerns

How long do you expect Pro projects to be delayed

Most indus­try pro­fes­sion­als’ con­cerns are bifur­cat­ed between health & safe­ty and finan­cial lines. They are sig­nif­i­cant­ly con­cerned about the health and safe­ty of their employ­ees, fol­lowed close­ly by cur­rent and future finan­cial con­cerns.

Indus­try pro­fes­sion­als antic­i­pate less rev­enue in the com­ing months. Of those com­pa­nies, the major­i­ty expressed that they can­not oper­ate with this low­ered rev­enue for more than six months. This impact is a direct result of COVID.

Clo­sure rates are sig­nif­i­cant­ly low­er due to COVID, par­tic­u­lar­ly the health and safe­ty con­cerns of home­own­ers. How­ev­er, recent­ly there has been a slight rebound in online pur­chas­ing, sug­gest­ing that home­own­ers have inten­tions of hav­ing the work com­plet­ed, but per­haps as DIY projects. In the future, these inten­tions may result in bet­ter busi­ness rates.

Purchasing Trends

Did you buy online due to COVID

Sim­i­lar to DIY home­own­ers, res­i­den­tial con­trac­tors are still shop­ping in-store occa­sion­al­ly; how­ev­er, sup­ply has been a slight chal­lenge and online pur­chas­ing has increased. The pri­ma­ry rea­son for this increase is health and safe­ty con­cerns, with the sec­ondary rea­son being local sup­ply lev­els. This move to online pur­chas­es is occur­ring even more so in larg­er firms.

Project Requests

Pro Projects Larger or Smaller

While res­i­den­tial project requests have been low­er than usu­al, the qual­i­ty of these requests remains robust, sug­gest­ing home­own­ers’ inten­tions to have work com­plet­ed on their homes is still there. This bal­ance has result­ed in slight­ly bet­ter clo­sure rates. This qual­i­ty of project requests is also direct­ly cor­re­lat­ed to the increased time home­own­ers spend at home now.

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