DIY retail gains from a surging housing market

May 30, 2014
3 min read
  • The UK’s leading DIY chain, B&Q, has just reported a 10.5% surge in sales in Q1.
  • The DIY retail sector grew sales by 5% in 2013 and we expect 2014 to be another year of healthy annual growth, as we note in our new DIY Retailing UK 2014 report.

Set for further growth in 2014

The DIY sector is gaining from the surge in residential property transactions: the market for home-improvement products tends to be closely tied to the number of house-moves.

Moreover, the milder spring weather of 2014 has boosted garden-product sales by DIY stores this year: B&Q noted a 30% surge in sales of outdoor seasonal and building products in Q1.

A large majority plan home improvements

Consumer research for our new DIY Retailing report found a large proportion of consumers are planning home improvements:

  • Fully 78% of all consumers expect to do DIY in the year ahead.
  • Once we factor in those who plan to have work done for them by someone else, 82% of all consumers plan home improvements in the coming 12 months.
  • Basic painting and decorating are the most popular DIY plans for the year ahead, our research found.
  • But fully 43% plan a new kitchen or bathroom in the next 12 months, compared with just 10% who bought one in the last year. That statistic needs to be treated with some caution as such plans are easily deferred, but it is a good measure of the pent up demand which has built up during the downturn.

The buoyant housing market, declining inflation, upgrades to GDP forecasts and falling unemployment are all feeding into rising consumer confidence, and this is expected to underpin consumer participation in DIY in 2014.

Some notes of caution

Despite these positive signs, DIY remains low on the list of priorities for many shoppers:

  • Mintel’s monthly data confirms home improvement is a relatively low priority for shoppers: consumers are generally much more interested in spending on leisure services such as holidays and other retail categories such as clothing.
  • DIY has fallen out of fashion. The change in attitudes pre-dated the final stages of the housing boom and the financial crisis. It is most obvious from the TV schedules: ten years ago home makeover programmes were commonplace, now they hardly feature outside daytime TV schedules.

And, as recent history has taught us, sustained growth in the housing market growth is far from certain, and any downturn would hit demand for home improvements.

So, while the short-term indicators are positive, ongoing strong growth in DIY retail is not guaranteed.

We provide five-year sector forecasts and extensive consumer research findings in our DIY Retailing UK 2014 report – find out more here.

John Mercer is an analyst focusing on retailing in the UK and mainland Europe. He works on Mintel’s retail reports across food and non-food retail sectors, with a particular focus on e-commerce and multichannel retailing. John joined Mintel in 2010, having previously worked for market research and market intelligence firms and in a business school.

John Mercer
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