Thanks for Visiting!

Register for free to get the full story.

Sign Up
Already have a account? Log In

Home Improvement Competition Heating Up

Bracha Arnold
August 11, 2022
Home Improvement Competition Heating Up

Home improvement was one of the more successful sectors throughout the pandemic. With lockdowns keeping people at home, many found the time to tackle DIY projects sending visits to home improvement retailers to all-time highs, significantly outperforming pre-pandemic numbers.   

Now, as lockdowns begin to fade into our memories and with inflation and gas prices causing people to think twice before opening their wallets, we checked in to see how the sector is faring. 

The Bigger Picture

April 2020 saw the beginning of a dramatic spike in year-over-year (YoY) home improvement foot traffic, and those trends continued unabated until April 2021. With the easing of pandemic restrictions, YoY foot traffic dropped into the negative – but only relative to the previous year’s unusually high visit numbers. So what may seem like a negative slump for the home improvement sector should be understood as a correction from an unprecedented time. 

Store demographics also play a role in visit patterns – as explored in our home improvement white paper, Lowe’s Home Improvement and The Home Depot attract a lot of small-time contractors and DIYers. With skyrocketing construction costs, many would-be renovators are likely pushing projects off, adding to the foot traffic downturn. 

Tractor Supply Co., with its focus on farm supplies, has seen the smallest YoY visit gap out of the four chains analyzed. While some of Tractor Supply’s success is likely due to its continued expansion, the brand’s unique client base may also be playing a role in maintaining the small visit gaps. Farmers form a significant portion of the Tennessee-based company’s clientele, and these consumers may have less leeway in pushing off the purchase of animal feed or other farm essentials. The pandemic also led to a boom in farming as a hobby, with many adding gardens to their backyards, leading to a sustained need for farming provisions. 

Smaller Players Gaining Momentum

Home Depot and Lowe’s still dominate the space – but since March 2022, both brands are feeling inflation’s impact on consumer spending and seeing year-over-three-year (Yo3Y) drops in foot traffic. But now, visits to Home Depot and Lowe’s are starting to trend upward once again. July 2022 saw some of the strongest numbers since March’s inflation-related visit downturn, with Home Depot and Lowe’s narrowing their visit gaps to 1.4% and 5.7% fewer visits than July 2019, respectively. This is perhaps a sign that people are ready to tackle a home improvement project again.    

Meanwhile, Tractor Supply and Ace Hardware saw 44.6% and 12.6% more visitors than three years prior. Ace Hardware, known for its smaller store format, saw its monthly visits consistently exceed pre-pandemic levels despite the wider economic situation. Tractor Supply also experienced elevated Yo3Y foot traffic, fueled by its store expansion. Between 2020 and 2022, the chain grew from 1,923 stores to 2,003 stores, and it’s planning on opening more locations throughout FY 2022. 

So while Tractor Supply and Ace currently have a significantly smaller visit share than Home Depot and Lowe's, the success of these smaller brands indicates that the home improvement space is getting increasingly competitive. 

Trade Area Increases Driven by Shifting Demographics

Some brands are seeing more Yo3Y visit growth than others, but all four home improvement brands are seeing Yo3Y increases in True Trade Area (TTA), which measures how far 70% of a venue’s customers travel to reach the venue. 

The increase in TTA for Lowe’s and Home Depot may indicate that the decrease in Yo3Y visits is due to higher gas prices leading consumers to consolidate trips rather than a real drop in demand. The current economic challenges have been fueling mission-driven shopping behavior in other retail categories, and Home Depot confirmed this trend when it raised its 2022 yearly outlook after seeing fewer transactions, but larger spending per consumers in Q1 2022. 

While Lowe’s and Home Depot saw their TTA increase by only 14.1% and 11.1%, respectively, between Q2 2019 and Q2 2022, Tractor Supply and Ace Hardware saw their TTA increase by 41.7% and 21.8%, respectively, during the same period. This means that increases in both visits Yo3Y and YoY, as well as Yo3Y TTA were stronger for the smaller players in the space than they were for home improvement leaders Home Depot and Lowe’s. 

The past two years have created unprecedented demand for the home improvement category – and the pandemic home-improvement boom seems to have accelerated competition in the space. While Home Depot and Lowe’s are still the undisputed visit leaders, smaller players such as Tractor Supply and Ace Hardware are now gaining steam. 

For more data-driven insights, visit

Get 3 brand & industry
breakdowns every week

Subscribe to the newsletter

Great! Prepare your inbox for data-driven insights...
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Get a Demo

Please enter your first name
Please enter your last name
Please provide a valid email
Please enter your email
Please enter company name

Thanks for reaching out!

One of our experts will be in touch soon

Try Free
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Text Link
Home Improvement
Text Link
Home Depot
Text Link
Crocs’ Footwear Fairytale
Who Attends NCAA Final Four Events?
Eclipse Fever: How Did the (Retail and Hospitality) Stars Align?
Exploring Albertsons Companies’ Grocery Growth Mall Index: March 2024 Recap – Malls Rise Again Office Index: March 2024 Recap
Florida Spring Break Break-Up? Travelers Still Love Florida!
Provo-Orem and Ogden-Clearfield Emerging As Utah Hotspots 
Three Formulas for Experiential Retail in 2024
Aldi & Lidl Making The Cut
Texas Suburbs on the Rise
Exploring Luxury Hotel Brands’ Guest Segmentation
The St. Patrick’s Day Effect
How Can JOANN Make a Comeback?
Panera Bread Well Positioned for Possible IPO
Who Will Benefit From Family Dollar’s Downsizing?
Dave & Buster’s and Main Event Entertainment: Food and Fun for Everyone
Darden Brands: Location Analytics and Consumer Behavior
Nike and lululemon: a Strong 2023, Sprinting into 2024
Where Is Retail and Dining Foot Traffic Thriving in Early 2024? White Paper Recap – February 2024
Three Retail & Dining Chains That May Surprise in 2024
Specialty Discount Chains Rock Retail Therapy Mall Index: February 2024 Office Index: February 2024 Recap
Ulta Beauty Continues To Shine
First Watch Sails Into 2024
Hibbett Sports and DICK’S Sporting Goods: A Psychographic Analysis
Checking in With Discount & Dollar Stores
Peeking Behind The Curtain: Movie Theaters in 2023 and Beyond
Diving Into Brick-and-Mortar Eyewear
Getting Into Gear: Exploring The Auto Part Industry
Recapping Valentine’s Day 2024 Foot Traffic Trends
Fitness: A Strong Start to 2024
Dutch Bros. Continues To Percolate Visits
Super Bowl 2024:’s Postgame Foot Traffic Analysis
CAVA & sweetgreen Are On the Rise
Hats Off For Off-Price
Who Is Shopping at Malls?
Drilling Down Into Home Improvement
Walmart, Target, Costco & Superstore Space 2023 Recap
Catching Up With Shake Shack and Wingstop
Something To Chew On: Demographic Shifts at Steakhouse Chains Office Index: Looking Back at 2023
Recapping RBI & Yum! Brands’ 2023 Foot Traffic Performance White Paper Recap – January 2024
Who Shops at Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters?
Three Taco Chains to Watch in 2024
Starbucks and Dunkin’: 2023 in Four Data Points
Who Visits CVS and Walgreens?
Fashionably Frugal: Apparel in 2023
Catching Up With Fast Food
The Grocery Sector in 2023: An End-of-Year Recap
3 Mall & Shopping Center Trends for 2024
Bakery Chains Rising To The Top and Esri Partner to Deliver Geospatial Analytics
Tampa Tourism Trends
Going For The Green: The Changing Dynamics Of Country Clubs
Christmas Day Dining Recap
Major Urban Shopping Districts – Holiday Season Recap Office Index: December 2023 Recap
Recapping the 2023 Holiday Shopping Season White Paper Recap – December 2023
7 Retail & Dining Segments to Watch in 2024
Diving Into Holiday Season Favorites
Super Saturday and Christmas Eve Eve: A Winning Combination
3 Budget Grocery Chains Finishing 2023 On a High Note
Making It In America: International Chicken Chains Bring The Heat
Domestic Tourism at a Glance: A Q3 2023 Roundup
Five Pizza Chains On The Rise
Jewelry Brands Taking Advantage of the DTC Opportunity
Secondhand News: Kids' Thrift Shops
Recapping 2023’s Dining M&As
MetLife Stadium Kicks Off Football Season Office Index: November 2023 Recap
Small Coffee Chains Brewing Big Success White Paper Recap – November 2023
Thanksgiving Travel 2023 Recap
Checking in With Nike and Lululemon
Black Friday 2023 Retail Recap
Starbucks’ 2023 Holiday Menu & Red Cup Day Performance
Turkey Wednesday 2023
Who Attended the 2023 Pickleball Championship? 
Three Surprising Holiday Shopping Trends
What’s in Store for Ulta Beauty This Holiday Season?
Best Buy and Department Stores: A Holiday Deep Dive
Discount & Dollar Stores: Strength Toward The End of the Year
The State of Off-Price Retail: Discounts Seal The Deal
Placer Mall Index Recap: October 2023 Office Index: October 2023 Recap
Retail Corridors Ahead of the 2023 Holiday Season
California, Here Gap Comes
Checking in With Home Improvement
Getting Into the Glasses Game: Warby Parker Takes Over
Fitness Positioned for a Strong 2023 Finish
White Paper Recap: October 2023
Coffee Giants Brewing Up Business
Popeyes and Burger King Lead the Way
Diving into Yum!
Looking Ahead to Black Friday 2023