COVID-19 Impact Tracker Updates: Pro and DIY Behavior

To measure the current economic climate and understand purchasing behavior in home improvement, the COVID-19 Impact Tracker was developed and used to research consumer purchases from home improvement stores by the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) in partnership with The Farnsworth Group. 

HIRI and The Farnsworth Group made it a priority to study home improvement shopping behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic. This  year, the impact of COVID on the behavior of home improvement professionals and DIYers have been significant, and we tracked this information on a regular basis to stay on top of the trend. 

The data was collected from surveys issued to more than 300 participants on a weekly and monthly basis, with each age group being represented equally. Here’s what we learned. 

Tracker Takeaways: Purchasing Trends During the Pandemic 

To study trends in home Improvement, the COVID Impact Tracker asked professional contractors and homeowners about the purchasing decisions they made in recent months.

Because of home-basing (or mandatory stay-at-home orders), there’s been a rise in DIY projects. These projects have caused a major market shift and impacted homeowners’ purchase decisions over the last several months. 

Homeowners have had more free time to finish DIY projects since mid-March: Data indicates that over 60% of DIYers are focused more on purchases for their homes than other expenditures before the pandemic hit.

Whether it’s free time or just being around the house more often, homeowners spend more time on DIY projects these days. It makes sense: if you’re home-basing or need to set up a home office, the idea of improving your living space is at the forefront of your mind. 

Tracker Takeaways: Effects on Professional Contractors

Online purchases remain robust for a few reasons, including homeowners’ concerns over health and safety about visiting local retail stores. They’re also more likely to work on DIY projects instead of hiring a contractor because of health and safety concerns. 

Homeowners are tackling projects on their own since they’re still hesitant about anyone outside their “pod” entering their home. That means they’ll undertake jobs they might previously have paid a contractor to do: bathroom remodels, painting or refinishing a floor, landscaping, etc. 

The good news for contractors is that project quality and sizes are rebounding, according to tracker research. Over 50% of home improvement professionals report that their recent project sizes are the same or larger than they were before the COVID-19 crisis. 

Tracker Takeaways: Effects on Suppliers and Retailers

There are a few areas where professionals see issues cropping up — and most issues today are in the home improvement materials supply chain. 

Homeowners, DIYers, contractors and other industry professionals all shopped online more this last year, either because of COVID-19 restrictions at their local retailers or because the store was (and still is, in some cases) out of stock of products. 

But contractors and other home improvement industry professionals aren’t as busy with projects and expect their firms to earn less revenue in the coming months. So while there’s been a slight rebound in the sales of home improvement materials and supplies, those products are likely going towards a homeowner’s DIY project. 

It’s a direct result of COVID, according to reports from the Weekly COVID Tracker: Of those companies experiencing downtime, the majority expressed that they cannot operate with lowered revenue for more than six months.

But there’s a bright side: While residential project requests have been lower than usual, the quality and amount of these requests remain robust. Homeowners might be handling a bathroom remodel, but they likely won’t tackle HVAC or electric repair. Instead, they’ll call their favorite contractor or another skilled professional. 

And because homeowners spend more time at home now, they’ll be using their spaces more often and will eventually need help maintaining or repairing them. 

In other words, things are always guaranteed to pivot in the home improvement market.

Need Help Staying on Track?

HIRI has helped home improvement companies and professionals navigate the shifting market, how their customers are spending money and how to make decisions around their business in a tumultuous market. 

By tracking this research data, HIRI delivers actionable information and resources to professionals in the home improvement industry. A membership with HIRI means you gain insight into all aspects of the industry: from product purchasing trends to DIY project data. 

Stay up to date on industry news and sign up for the HIRI newsletter, or apply to become a member today.

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