Spring is traditionally a time for homeowners to assess which indoor and outdoor repair and maintenance projects they’ll be undertaking during the warm weather months but this year’s economy may change the nature of home improvement spending. Retail Forward’s recent Webinar on this topic highlighted the numbers. Home improvement retail sales dropped from $337 billion to $325 billion between 2007 and 2008. Is there anything you can do to help your clients in the home improvement products industry increase sales?

While the home improvement industry was down 3% overall, the lawn and garden sector grew nearly 17% last year. Retail Forward analysts believe that consumers are turning to gardening and perhaps doing more lawn- related projects themselves. Also, a slight increase in hardware store sales between 2007 and 2008 highlights another trend. Consumers are looking for assistance and assurance as they attempt to handle home-related problems themselves. Even major building supply stores reported a 5% increase overall in the number of projects consumers are doing for themselves, instead of hiring out to professionals.

According to Retail Forward analysts, big box stores, noticing these trends, are turning to marketing messages that encourage consumers to spend money on projects they can undertake themselves, such as replacing a faucet or a light fixture or painting a room. Why not approach your local paint and wallpaper stores or your hardware stores and suggest a marketing campaign that promotes the supplies and equipment that will appeal to the new do-it-yourself philosophy of homeowners in your market. And just like home improvement projects that expand in scope once they get started, your agency may find a long-term relationship with a new client.

[Source: Home Improvement Retailing: A New Blueprint for Growth Webinar, 2. 26.09]