A shift away from DIY is affecting retail trading

Published:  28 May, 2013

Merchants with substantial retail sales will not be encouraged by analysts’ prediction of another fall in sales when B&Q owner Kingfisher reports on trading for the past three months this week.

Credit Suisse has forecast that like-for-like sales will drop by 2 percent for B&Q. Poor weather has been blamed for poor retail trading, but there are also fundamental market changes at play driven by the fall in the rate of house sales.

“If someone moves house they will spend eight to 10 times more than on their previous house in the first two years,” says Paul Loft, managing director at Homebase, which opened the latest version of its new-concept store in Battersea, showing a significant shift away from DIY.

Separate Habitat and Laura Ashley concessions have been introduced at the front of the store, carpets and curtains are sold for the first time, large electronic screens have been introduced to illustrate products, and more space has been made available to demonstrate Homebase’s built-in kitchens. This space has been created by cutting back on tools and construction products.

In the outside garden centre, the selling space for aggregates and bricks is smaller so the retailer can offer its plants to customers in a more accessible way. There is an expanded decorating zone with magazines, books, touch-screen computers, wallpaper samples, mood boards and a table and chairs for customers to spend time considering how they want their home to look.

Customers will also be able to book appointments with City & Guilds-trained decorating consultants to discuss their plans to transform their homes.

Mr Loft said the store is shifting its focus from “DIY enthusiasts” to “home and garden enhancers”, which has apparently led to a more female-friendly atmosphere. He said the new store is “less about construction and big projects”, with increasing numbers of British families hiring workmen to complete major jobs within the home.

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