Staying at home, and spending on the home

When people are forced to hunker down in their home, one result is increased home improvement spending.

That's one of the more optimistic conclusions extracted from the "COVID-19 and the DIYers Response" webinar broadcast Thursday and led by Grant Farnsworth, director of business strategy for The Farnsworth Group, and Zack Williams, CEO and founder of Venveo. The webinar leaned heavily on the results of a weekly DIYer survey that has been tracking consumer behaviors through the coronavirus outbreak. The results draw from about 1,000 consumers each week.

Here are some of the highlights of the presentation:

  • New projects are trending up.
    In March 23, 60% of respondents said they had begun a new DIY project in or around the home in the last week. That percentage climbed steadily to 63% in April 13.

  • Online movement accelerates.
    While most DIYers say  they purchased their home improvement products in-store (around 80%), that figure is trending down. But a dramatic surge was seen in the percentage of people who bought online because of COVID-19 (for any reason). These purchases were at 55% on March 23, and have grown to higher than 80% April 13.

  • Surf’s up.
    People stuck at home are surfing the web with renewed vigor. According to Venveo, building product categories have seen tremendous interest search activity on Google. Leading the way is paint, up 700% in search volume from March 16 to April 5. Siding was up 120%, and kitchen and bath was up 76%. (Note, these percentages are for search volume, not sales volume.)

  • NAICS 444 sales gains bode well
    The Census Bureau reported an 8% increase in NAICS 444 sales for the month of March. According to Farnsworth, early reports from industry sources suggest a similarly strong start to April.

  • Up next: the lawn
    In the four weeks of the weekly survey, “Lawn maintenance” overtook “painting a room” as the top project that DIYers are planning to start in the next few weeks. About 50% of consumers are planning a lawn project as of April 13.

  • A chink in Amazon’s armor.
    Last year at this time, the percent of positive seller reviews on Amazon Marketplaces was in the mid 90s. It’s slipped to the low 90s according to a slide presented by Williams, and crediting