Home Improvement Somehow Still Hot

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The home improvement sector thrived during the pandemic – and at first glance, that run seemed to be over. Critically, this was less an indictment on the success of the sector’s leaders than a testament to the heights reached during the pandemic. 

So how has the summer treated the sector?

Looking Back at 2020

While Tractor Supply continued its impressive growth streak – with visits in July up a whopping 29.7% compared to July 2020 – year-over-year foot traffic at Home Depot and Lowe’s has been down over the last three months. 

But, again, given the exceptional nature of 2020’s home improvement visit numbers, a year-over-year comparison provides a skewed picture of the sector’s 2021 performance. Measuring the difference in visits between this year and last can only tell us whether the sector is still growing at the frenetic 2020 pace – not whether home improvement is holding on to its COVID gains. And even in this skewed view, the year-over-year gaps are shrinking, showing just how strong the sector is performing.

Consistent and Steady Year-Over-Two-Year Growth

Instead, comparing 2021 visits to pre-pandemic 2019 visits provides a better sense of the sector’s health – and the year-over-two-year comparison shows that visits were up every single month and for each of the three sector leaders compared to the same month two years ago. In July, the last full month for which data is available, monthly visits compared to 2019 were up 12.8%, 16.0%, and a massive 55.4% for Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Tractor Supply, respectively.

The consistent increase in monthly visits compared to 2019 indicates that COVID brought a lasting increase in foot traffic to home improvement stores. If current trends continue, the pandemic may well improve the home improvement sector’s positioning for years to come.

Regional Gains Across the Country 

What’s particularly impressive about home improvement’s performance is its consistency across regions. Comparing monthly visits to home improvement leaders across the four most populous states in the nation – California, Texas, Florida, and New York – shows that visits were up every month, for every brand, and in every state analyzed. 

These are enviable numbers, and prove that the home improvement growth spurt is no fluke. Over a year after the pandemic ignited a home improvement shopping spree, customers across the country are still consistently flocking to home improvement stores in higher numbers than they were pre-COVID. 

Home Improvement Visits Incorporated into Weekday Routine 

The foot traffic increase seems driven – at least partially – by an increase in weekday visits. The proportion of weekday visits in June and July 2021 increased at all three brands, while the share of weekend visits fell compared to the same period two years ago – with no discernable impact on median visit duration. So while more visits are happening during the week, these visits are not typically any shorter than the median pre-pandemic visit. This could reflect an increase in construction and building professionals visiting these stores as part of their workday due to an overall increase in home construction in 2021

But it can also mean that more amateur builders are visiting home improvement stores as part of their regular weekday routines – whether to get materials for their current DIY project or just to see what’s new. And with the historic increase in home sales in May and June and the expected corresponding increase in home renovation projects, home improvement shows no signs of slowing down. 

Will monthly visits to home improvement stores continue to outperform 2019? Will Tractor Supply keep up its impressive run? 

Visit Placer.ai to find out.

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