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News I published 27 August 2021

Online media orientation – more online shopping for home improvement products due to corona

More online shopping for Home improvement products due to corona

As we all know, and most of us have felt, the pandemic has forced many people to stay indoors and work from home.  While spending more time at home, people were constantly facing possible points of improvement and possibilities for renovation. Meanwhile, not travelling to the workplace every day and not being able to go to restaurants or on holidays due to corona lockdowns and regulations meant they had more time available and budget left to take action and actually improve and renovate their homes.

As a result, over the past year and a half or so, the amount of home improvement jobs European consumers engaged in went up, a trend that we have clearly seen in the results of the continual research for USP Marketing Consultancy’s European Home Improvement Monitor. But where to get the tools and materials for those jobs amidst a pandemic and various forms of lockdowns?

A third of European consumers bought home improvement products online instead of in a store due to corona

As might be expected, the answer is online shops, or so it seems from the results of the Q2 2021 report of the European Home Improvement Monitor, which focuses on the impact of online orientation and will soon be available.

32% of European consumers stated that the pandemic caused them to not buy home improvement products in a physical store and to buy them online instead in the past 6 months. That is the European average, however, and zooming in on the eleven European countries we research each quarter, vast differences per country appear. At the top is Poland, where a whopping 60% of consumers report that COVID forced them to buy online instead of in-store. On the other side of the spectrum, we find Belgium, where only 21% of consumers reported the same.

Why is way more interesting

More consumers opting to buy online due to COVID is not much of a surprise. More interesting are the reasons why consumers made or were forced to make that choice. That is why we also asked consumers what exactly drove them to buy online during Covid. The graph below shows three clear problems that stopped consumers from acquiring tools and materials in physical stores during the pandemic.

Places where physical shops such as DIY stores were allowed to be open often had a multitude of safety measurements, like a mandatory mask wearing, a maximum amount of visitors per area, separation screens between them, and a constant offer of hand sanitiser. Still, these measurements were not enough for 41% of European consumers, who stated that they were driven to shop online because of health and safety concerns.

Then there were countries and moments in time where and hen the situation got so bad that physical shops had to close altogether. It seems that closed shops during the variety of national and local lockdowns drove almost a third of the European consumers to shop online.

Aside from causing problems at the front of the stores, problems that kept consumers from going in, the pandemic caused problems at the back end of the stores as well. As consumers’ demand for home improvement products rose, measurements to reduce the pandemic affected production and supply lines of those products, sometimes resulting in lacking stocks in stores. About a quarter of European consumers was forced to look for alternatives who had what they needed in stock and bought online.

Vast differences in reasons and outlook per country

The above graph shows massive country differences in shares of reasons why consumers opted to buy online. Some can be explained by local measurements. In Sweden, for instance, the vast majority of consumers who shopped online did so because of health concerns, while only five percent did so because of shops being closed. Those figures match the pandemic policies in Sweden, in which forced lockdowns were not very apparent, so people drew their own conclusions.

In other countries, however, the shares may be based more on sentiment than on national corona policy. In the Netherlands, for instance, severe lockdowns in which home improvement stores had to close as well did not last that long, but even that seems to have made a massive impression on Dutch consumers, as a majority of 41% say they bought online because physical stores were closed.

The future is even more interesting

The above clearly shows that corona caused a checkerboard of reactions and sentiments in Europe that affected the home improvement sectors in European countries in different ways. More concretely, it shows that shares of consumers that bought more online due to corona and their reasons differ vastly. Instead of dwelling on the past, however, we think it is time we focus on the future and find out whether consumers who bought more online expect they will continue to do so.

That nugget of information, as well as the different outlooks of consumers from these eleven countries, will be available soon in the Q2 2021 report of USP Marketing Consultancy’s European Home Improvement Monitor.

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