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How COVID-19 Is Changing Business for Contractors

Since March, The Farnsworth Group and the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) have collected data on DIYers’ and contractors’ home improvement sentiments during COVID-19. The complete report for the organizations’ Weekly COVID-19 Tracker reveals contractors are relying on brick-and-mortar home improvement retailers even as they find new ways to serve customers.

To fully explore COVID-19’s impact on DIYers, check out The Farnsworth Group and HIRI’s research into shifting DIY attitudes during the pandemic.

Health concerns are a major reason for project cancellations.

The data reveals nearly all contractors have experienced delayed or canceled projects amid COVID-19, the leading cause for which remains health concerns from homeowners.

However, The Farnsworth Group and HIRI note a steady increase in budgetary concerns as a prevailing reason for homeowners to delay or cancel construction work. Concern over finances began at 44 percent in March, but grew to 55 percent at the end of the 10-week tracking study.

Residential contractors still trust brick-and-mortar retail.

For residential contractors, the importance of brick-and-mortar home improvement locations remains clear. When asked where they purchased building materials over the last three weeks, more than 60 percent say they chose in-store retail locations. Thirty-nine percent of respondents chose online orders delivered to their job sites. Twenty-eight percent of contractors chose to pickup their online purchases in-store.

Product availability is key to securing contractor purchases.

Contractors value product availability, the data indicates. Nearly 40 percent of contractors say products out of stock as a reason they purchased materials online.

“Lack of inventory may lead to new products, new brands and new suppliers being used that can meet the needs of contractors. Understanding where pros are going, why they are going there and how they prefer to purchase materials is an opportunity for suppliers and manufacturers alike to capture share,” The Farnsworth Group states.

Contractors are using new suppliers.

The Farnsworth Group data shows that 45 percent of contractors have tried a new brand of product in the last two months. Channel shift is nothing new, but 45 percent is much higher than the 20 percent usually observed by the research firm in years prior. For many, brand shift during COVID-19 was driven by a search for better quality products, sheer availability and better pricing.

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