HIRI’s Retail Selector Study: An Update and Insights

There isn’t one way to define “normal” in 2020, especially when it comes to home improvement industry trends. 

Even though our collective reality looks different than it did this time last year, home improvement companies need a way to measure what’s happening in the industry, so that they can make decisions about their business with confidence. 

The Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) conducted a survey from mid-April to mid-May this year on the retail sector of the home improvement industry. The survey was launched to help understand how the developing COVID pandemic and economic crisis would impact DIYer and professional purchasing decisions. 

The HIRI Retail Selector Study

The data that came back from HIRI’s retail selector survey was illuminating, especially around homeowners’ behavior when it comes to DIY projects in 2020. 

The retail selector study respondents needed to meet a few requirements: 

  • They had to be decision-makers for purchasing decisions in their homes;
  • They had to personally purchase products for home improvement in the last three months; 
  • They could not be employed in the home improvement industries;
  • They had to be 18 years of age or older.  

HIRI broke down the responses from the 2,000 homeowners who answered the survey, based on their age, gender and other demographics.

Here are a few of the biggest takeaways from HIRI’s study.

Takeaway #1: Home Sales and New Construction

The survey asked respondents about any plans they had for moving into and buying new homes. 

“I think this is a really important thing to look at right now,” explains Grant Farnsworth, of The Farnsworth Group who was the research and insights firm that oversaw this study. “We’re seeing some tremendous existing home sales month-over-month.” 

In the 2020 survey, 21% of respondents said they planned to buy or sell their home in the next 12 months. “We’ve seen this almost double from prior surveys,” says Grant.

Takeaway #2: DIY Activity Is Still Steady

Home improvement projects have been a growing trend among homeowners (there’s an entire television network dedicated to it), but DIY projects are increasingly popular these days. Grant Farnsworth explains that we’re seeing a “nesting phenomena” come into play in 2020: We’re all “stuck” at home during the pandemic, so homeowners want to make that home as pleasant as possible. 

And homeowners want solutions for the long-term. They either want to make improvements so they’re more comfortable in their homes or want to make repairs before they put their property up for sale. 

 HIRI asked survey respondents if they’re still making purchases for those projects, and the results were affirmative. Even during the pandemic and an economic crisis, homeowners are still purchasing products for their DIY projects: purchases from home improvement centers went up by 3% between April and June and online purchases went up by 1%.

Takeaway #3: Online Is On the Rise

It’s notable, however, that homeowners have had to navigate COVID restrictions and other barriers to purchase when they shop for their DIY projects. Those factors have contributed to the number of in-store purchases, which are down by 20% from 2018 research. 

However, the number of online and curbside pickup purchases went up in 2020: 21% of homeowners in the survey bought their products online, a significant increase from the 6% of homeowners who bought products online in 2018. The convenience of curbside pickup has also grown in popularity in 2020. 

Takeaway #4: Bigger Shopping Baskets

Research from HIRI’s survey also indicates that homeowners are buying more of a variety of home improvement products. “DIYers are buying in more categories and they’re spending more money,” says Grant Farnsworth. “Their baskets are getting bigger.” 

Grant explains how this kind of data is helpful for home improvement companies. “This should shift how you position your product, how you position your brand, how you develop the product, your sales and marketing messaging, etc.” Understanding which products are popular among DIYers can help retailers plan and project which products might bring in more business. 

How Home Improvement Companies Can Use This Data

HIRI’s retail selector study helped to illuminate how the economic crisis and global pandemic have affected home improvement retail customers. That kind of information can help home improvement companies and retailers make better business decisions and plan for future success.

COVID-19’s impact on the home improvement industry has been significant, but homeowners, DIYers, contractors and professionals still need quality products from retailers they trust. By understanding the needs of these customers, home improvement companies can attract and retain more business. 

HIRI was founded to serve the home improvement industry by providing its members with relevant and up-to-date data on consumers and their purchasing decisions. All HIRI members get insights into home improvement market data and weekly reports to help their companies grow their business and plan for future success. 

You can find out more by signing up for HIRI’s newsletter here. Or learn more about membership with HIRI and the benefits that our members receive.


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