Man shopping in hardware store

Increase in DIY for the Retail Market

January 17, 2024
4 min read

The COVID-19 lockdown caused a massive spike in DIY interest. This was exemplified by Kingfisher, the owner of B&Q and Screwfix, reporting a remarkable 146% increase in online sales from 2021 to 2023 last three years. However, following this, the DIY market saw a decline in 2022 due to the cost of living crisis. The financial insulation enjoyed by many UK residents during lockdown has dwindled and consumers are putting much more importance on value when it comes to home improvement. 

This can be seen in the types of DIY projects consumers opt for. In lockdown, people might have had the time and discretionary income to build larger creations, like pizza ovens and bike sheds. However, the current focus has shifted to small-scale DIY projects to save money. Retailers must be prepared for consumers wanting to spend less, either by allowing them to pay later or in instalments for more expensive items or by promoting smaller, budget-friendly products. 

Buy Now Pay Later

Consumers have taken an interest in projects they perceive to be long-term money-saving investments. For instance, the surge in popularity of solar panels offers financial and environmental benefits that outweigh their initial expense. The increased popularity of more flexible financing options has made large purchases like this more accessible. Over half of online shoppers have used some credit means to purchase items in the last year, a significant increase from 2022. Several DIY retailers have recognised this growing preference for flexible financing, with B&Q offering Paypal Pay in 3 instalments and Wickes offering Klarna. Retailers in the DIY market must take note of this shift, as failing to offer such payment options could result in missed opportunities for high-value sales, particularly given the current economic climate.

Explore Mintel’s DIY Market Research

Social Media

Brands can use social media to boost engagement with traditionally less engaged demographics, including women and younger consumers. TikTok, as a source of inspiration for DIY projects, skyrocketed during lockdown, with a range of viral trends, like renter-friendly hacks, sustainable repurposing, and deep cleaning tips. Mintel’s research reveals that 20% of consumers gained inspiration from social media to purchase DIY or garden products in the last three months. In response to this DIY mania on Tiktok, retailers have taken to creating social media accounts to highlight DIY trends and give advice and tips, in addition to promoting their products. 

Wickes’s TikTok account focuses on showcasing DIY projects created by their customers, a strategy that encourages customer loyalty and shows appreciation to their clientele. In contrast, Screwfix focuses on its trade audiences, advertising brands such as DeWalt and Makita naturally and unobtrusively. Creating content that doesn’t feel like advertising is key for keeping customers engaged. 

Sustainability 

From a sustainability perspective, consumers are expecting more transparency from retailers regarding their practices, especially as awareness around greenwashing grows. Merely acquiring awards like the FSC Chain of Custody certification to validate responsibly sourced timber is no longer sufficient. Customers now look to brands actively engaging in charitable and community-based initiatives. These efforts demonstrate a sincere dedication to a more sustainable future, ultimately bolstering brand trust.

Outlining your sustainability goals increases brand integrity. B&Q, for instance, has devoted substantial effort to developing its responsible business page. They not only touch on sustainability aims and achievements but also their charitable projects and their commitment to ethical operations.

In our Global Outlook on Sustainability study, we found that 3 out of 10 consumers feel better about buying secondhand or repurposed products. This highlights a clear opportunity for retailers to make steps toward circularity. Initiatives like allowing customers to rent tools, as Travis Perkins does, or facilitating trade-ins of old tools for a voucher will encourage people to continue getting involved in DIY while aligning with sustainable practices. 

What We Think

We’ve found that many internet users surveyed in our DIY Retailing study did not commit to one specific brand. Therefore, there are opportunities to convert consumers to your brand and further grow your business. Maintaining an ethos of transparency in all aspects of your operations is crucial, this applies to sustainability efforts, chain of supply integrity, and advertising. 

Streamlining the online shopping experience for your customers can greatly benefit your business. This means providing a range of payment options in conjunction with convenient services like click and collect. Moreover, over 20% of shoppers agree that home improvement retailers are overwhelming. To improve in-store sales and cultivate a more inviting environment for customers,  retailers can extend a helping hand by offering bespoke services, like timber cutting, paint mixing, and brick matching. 

To delve deeper into our expert DIY insights, take a look at our  DIY Retailing Market Report, or sign up to Spotlight, our free newsletter for exclusive research.

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