Minding the storage

The garage has been called the “man cave” and “the last frontier of home improvement.” Either way, garage storage and the related category of tool storage are areas of opportunity for home channel merchants.

“Garage storage is an up-and-coming category,” said Mark Delaney, NPD Group’s director of home improvement. “Whether that’s a fad or a trend, I’m not so sure the jury is in yet.”

Consumer research from the NPD group shows the big-box, warehouse home centers as the dominant channel for both tool and garage storage spending.

But the mass merchant may be the most interesting player -- dollar share and unit share in the mass channel both showed increases in the first three quarters of 2007. And while the mass channel showed 10 percent dollar share in tool storage, it showed 19.3 percent unit share, reflecting lower price points. The purchase habits of 30,000 consumers from November 2006 to October 2007 make one observation clear: the garage attracts high-income shoppers.

“Garage storage is somewhat immune to the housing market,” said Delaney. “It’s not like a kitchen category. The folks who are going to go out and redo their garage will do it regardless of what the housing market is doing.”

The two related fields show dramatic demographic differences. Almost 44 percent of tool storage consumers are in the youngest 18 to 34 age bracket. But only 26.1 percent of garage storage and organization consumers are in the 18 to 34 age bracket. The portable plastic toolbox and shelving are the two product types that lead each of their respective categories.

Though still relatively small, hardware stores have the biggest impact on the “wall mount/rack” category type -- with 7.2 percent.

“Storage and organization used to be merchandised only once or twice a year, for spring cleaning or after the holidays,” said Delaney. “That’s not the case anymore.”

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