The home improvement industry grew 2% in the 12 months ending September 2011 compared to the same time period the year before, according to market research firm NPD Group, but the industry remains down 7% from the same time period in 2009.
Specialty retailers and online shopping are growing rapidly compared to the rest of this industry, the report from NPD said.
Specialty retailers' dollar sales in the home improvement arena grew 7% and grew by double-digits in unit sales compared to 2009. This channel now represents 12% share of dollar sales and 14% of unit sales in the categories that the market research firm tracks. The lawn and garden products category saw double-digit growth in the past two years.
Hardware stores also gained sales momentum, up 6% on a dollar basis compared to the 12 months that ended September 2009.
Other channels – such as warehouse home centers and warehouse clubs – grew modestly in the 12 months ending September 2011 but not as much as specialty and hardware stores.
Online shopping dollar sales up 15% over 2009, the report said. Online sales are now 5% of all home improvement sales. In the specialty channel, online makes up 20% of sales, with kitchen and bath specialty stores growing the most in the 12 months that ended in September 2011. Home improvement brick and mortar store sales are down in the last two years, although still account for most of the sales in this market.
The report said consumers still consider price the most important factor in choosing a retailer. However:
• A quarter of customers told the market researcher that their primary reason for patronizing a given home improvement retailer was that it was close to home.
• Customers at specialty stores chose a retailer for selection and availability more so than proximity to home.
Home improvement, as tracked by NPD, includes hand tools, power tools, outdoor power equipment, storage and organization, faucets and showerheads, lighting and electrical, fans, and caulk/glue/adhesives.
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