The needs-based nature of purchases such as plumbing and heating means that international governments have allowed DIY stores to remain open amid coronavirus lockdown. And although some have closed regardless, there will still be demand as consumers undertake home improvement projects while in self-isolation. The DIY market will demonstrate more resilience than other non-food sectors such as clothing and footwear, homewares, and furniture, where not being able to go out and financial concerns have dampened demand.
DIY retailers internationally have to think carefully about how best to meet demand for both essential and discretionary home improvement products. A severe decline in footfall has meant that, for many specialists, it is not worth keeping stores open. In Italy, Brico io has opted to close its doors, while in France, Kingfisher has temporarily shuttered its 221 Brico Dépôt and Castorama branches.
Many retailers are wisely focusing on improving their home delivery and click & collect capabilities as demand shifts online. Kingfisher recently revealed plans to introduce a new ‘drive-through’ click & collect option for shoppers in the UK and France, to enable customers to collect their purchases while minimising contact. Toolstation will also transform its stores into ‘essential service click & collect hubs’.
In New Zealand, DIY retailers such as Bunnings have closed to the public, but remain open for trade purposes. Questions should be asked about how much demand there will be for trade, as consumers increasingly worry about tradespeople entering their homes, and as tradespeople themselves self-isolate. Consumers may also delay investing in larger home improvement projects, with many concerned about what the full financial impact of the virus will be.