HIRI sentiment tracking points to consumer spending
The anticipated cost of planned home improvement projects in June increased 5% to an average of $517 per project, according to the latest monthly update from the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI).
The spending average is the highest recorded in the month of June since tracking began in 2008. It’s also the highest since the January 2011 planned-spending average of $548.
Overall, planned-project incidence increased to 49.1%, compared with 48.1% in June 2010.
The monthly survey relies on input from roughly 13,000 respondents per month and measures planning in 29 different project areas around the home.
HIRI is the home improvement industry’s leading source for original research. It is an independent, not-for-profit membership organization comprised of more than 80 forward-thinking companies.
Home Depot looks to fill pro’s need for convenience
Atlanta-based The Home Depot recently began rolling out is First for Pro initiative designed to boost service for pro customers.
Among the service differentiators, according to Ted Decker, Home Depot’s senior VP, U.S. Retail, are dedicated cashier staffing, unique "power hours," loading assistance and a simplified returns process.
"Power hours" refer to the busiest periods of the day when the store emphasizes having a greeter at the front of the store and store associates at the front of each aisle. The busy period for contractors differs from the busy period for DIYers.
The retailer’s average pro customer currently spend about $5,000 per year at the Home Depot, clearly indicating that the stores are used by them as a "convenience pickup," said Decker, speaking at the recent Oppenheimer & Co. Consumer Conference.
"So if we are a convenience pickup, we need to be convenient to the pro," Decker said. "They need to be able to get in and get out."
The company’s First for Pro initiative reflects an effort to more efficiently respond to the pro customer — boosting their Home Depot spending to an average of $6,000 or $7,000, he said. The program does not chase a false vision of the retailer as the pro’s principle supplier, he added.
"We are happy in our own skin now of what our service to the pro is, and we are going to execute that flawlessly in giving them the service they want," Decker said.