HIRI Retail Selector Blog 2022 Hero

Retail Selector: How Homeowners Choose What and Where to Shop

It’s 2022 and life final­ly seems to be regain­ing some sem­blance of nor­mal­cy. How­ev­er, the after­ef­fects of the Coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic are as impor­tant as ever to the home improve­ment prod­ucts category. 

Many home­own­ers com­plet­ed DIY home improve­ment projects that they like­ly won’t have to tack­le again for a cou­ple of years. Addi­tion­al­ly, our soci­ety has become ever more con­nect­ed by dig­i­tal tech­nol­o­gy. It’s a brand-new world. How and why are home­own­ers shop­ping for home improve­ment prod­ucts in 2022?

To help answer this ques­tion, The Home Improve­ment Research Insti­tute (HIRI) con­duct­ed a sur­vey in June this year on the retail sec­tor of the home improve­ment indus­try. Results of this sur­vey can help home improve­ment retail­ers, man­u­fac­tur­ers and dis­trib­u­tors under­stand cus­tomers’ needs. Pre­vi­ous iter­a­tions of the sur­vey were released every oth­er year between 2012 and 2022, and com­par­isons across years shed light on chang­ing trends in con­sumer behavior.

Here’s what you need to know about retail selec­tion in 2022:

Types of Projects

While home maintenance/​repair projects con­tin­ue to be the most com­mon project types asso­ci­at­ed with home improve­ment prod­ucts pur­chased, their report­ed rate dropped 4% from 2020. Addi­tion­al­ly, two years ago, home addi­tions had the largest increase of all project types (9%), but this year dropped 3%. 

Over­all, project rates have fall­en since 2020, but are still sim­i­lar to or high­er than 2018. 

Shopping Behavior

No mat­ter the cat­e­go­ry or type of project, home­own­ers are still doing their research when it comes to pick­ing out the right prod­uct. In fact, 75%-91% of home­own­ers con­sult­ed an infor­ma­tion source before their most recent home improve­ment pur­chase. Friends and rel­a­tives are the most fre­quent­ly report­ed source for infor­ma­tion at 39%, but are fol­lowed close­ly by online videos, which have increased in use from 33% in 2020 to 36% this year. Of the 19% of sur­vey respon­dents who con­sult social media, the top source is Face­book (79%).

It should come as no sur­prise that home­own­ers con­tin­ue to con­sult online videos, social sites and retail­er web­sites more than they did in pre­vi­ous years. The uni­ver­sal­i­ty of the inter­net and acces­si­bil­i­ty of smart­phones puts access to help­ful infor­ma­tion lit­er­al­ly at our fin­ger­tips. That being said, a major­i­ty of respon­dents report­ed per­form­ing an activ­i­ty on their mobile device in the home improve­ment pur­chase process. The most use­ful mobile device activ­i­ty cit­ed this year is – no sur­prise – Research project how-to’ information.”

Retailer Purchase Reasons

2020 was a year that saw a mas­sive uptick in online activ­i­ty with 37% report­ing that year that most of their recent pur­chas­es were online (whether deliv­ered or picked up). In 2022, that num­ber dropped to 28% as many home­own­ers returned to phys­i­cal retail stores to pur­chase their items.

In fact, home cen­ters such as Lowe’s and Home Depot were pur­chased from 5% more than in 2020, although discount/​department stores were pur­chased from 4% less. Hard­ware stores, spe­cial­ty stores, ware­house clubs, lum­ber or build­ing sup­ply, non-store­front retail­ers and the inter­net were pur­chased from at about the same rate as 2020. 

Sur­vey respon­dents list­ed their top rea­sons for shop­ping at each type of retailer:

  • Home Cen­ters: Selec­tion of prod­uct, con­ve­nient location
  • Spe­cial­ty Stores: Selec­tion of prod­uct, qual­i­ty help
  • Department/​Discount Stores: Selec­tion of prod­uct, con­ve­nient loca­tion, best prices
  • Hard­ware Stores: Con­ve­nient loca­tion, pleas­ant shop­ping envi­ron­ment, staff friendliness

Addi­tion­al­ly, 32% of respon­dents cross-shopped retail­ers before mak­ing their pur­chase. This is a 4% decrease from 2020 (per­haps because less peo­ple are shop­ping online) but still high­er than 2018. The most cit­ed rea­son for not pur­chas­ing an item was that a retail­er didn’t have the exact prod­uct wanted.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers, dis­trib­u­tors and espe­cial­ly retail­ers can use the infor­ma­tion from this sur­vey to bet­ter under­stand con­sumer behav­ior, where and why they make pur­chas­ing deci­sions and to plan strate­gi­cal­ly for how to help them along their retail journey. 

For more insights into this sur­vey, includ­ing raw data and demo­graph­ic details, join HIRI as a member.

Stay Informed

If you’re not yet signed up for our newslet­ter, we’d love to get your con­tact infor­ma­tion so you can stay informed about the research we’re doing and infor­ma­tion on our upcom­ing vir­tu­al Home Improve­ment Insights Summit.