Home improvement suffering from skittish consumers


It’s the time of year when the thoughts of home-owners turn to major improvements to their living quarters, particularly in a bad real estate market that has few thinking about a move. But although the numbers of the willing are high, a report says that their cash supply remains low.

According to a Mintel study, 28% of consumers have a major DIY project in mind, but just cannot swing paying for it at the moment. Mintel says the percentage is even higher, somewhat surprisingly, in one of the higher income brackets. 32% of those in the $75K-$99.9K bracket made the same remark.

Despite the less than encouraging results of the latest survey, Mintel still sees signs of sunshine ahead.
“When the housing market collapsed many consumers chose to make minor improvements to their homes instead of pursuing large, complicated renovation projects that would drain their wallets,” says Bill Patterson, senior analyst at Mintel. “However, positive fourth-quarter sales suggest a thawing in consumer spending and the release of some pent-up demand.”

Mintel’s stats show 39% of consumers with serious interest in pursuing a major project. “We forecast growth to accelerate in 2011 and, presuming a stabilization of the housing market, to remain positive through 2015,” added Patterson. “Pent-up demand, ongoing need for repair and maintenance, retro-fitting, and renovations from Boomers approaching retirement and demand from Millennials should all propel DIY spending.”

RBR-TVBR observation: We all know this is the time of the year that home improvement stores need to be on the air. You can help them succeed by taking current realities into account. Even though consumers may not be ready to take on big projects, they may be all the more willing to expend some resources on smaller ones – and the materials that might come into play are what retailers could be emphasizing on your airspace to get people walking in their doors.