Promising year ahead for home interiors retailers, but consumers more selective about where they buy, research shows

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New research has revealed millions of consumers are spending more money than usual on their homes as a result of lockdown, with 75% of Brits planning further improvements over the next year.

The data provides reassurance that despite the coronavirus, there are still lucrative opportunities for home interiors retailers. However, the research also discovered that even though the UK is easing its way out of lockdown, almost half of people who want to view items for their home in person are concerned about going to the shops. Instead, they’re more likely to turn to social media for interiors inspiration before choosing which businesses to buy from, with YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest among the preferred channels, but with home interiors magazines and brand websites proving popular too.

The research, which questioned over 2,000 consumers and was commissioned by home interiors marketing agency Unhooked Communications, found 72% of people have bought new interiors products for their home over the last two months. The most popular items include wallpaper or paint (22%), kitchen utensils or cooking items (21%), and tools (16%).

Over two-fifths (42%) said they’re investing more in their home in 2020 because they have spent less money day-to-day due to lockdown. More than a third (36%) said because they aren’t going on holiday this year, so are instead splashing more cash on home improvements.

For the three-quarters of consumers planning home improvements over the next 12 months, two fifths (39%) want to redecorate at least one room, a quarter want to landscape the garden, 14% want a new bathroom, and more than one in 10 (11%) want a new kitchen. With more people working remotely, a further one in ten said they want to create a home office.

While 45% have concerns about going to the shops to make their home improvement plans a reality, there are other considerations shoppers face when it comes to choosing which home interiors retailers to buy from.

Compared to 12 months ago, over half (54%) said they’re more likely to want to support local businesses and 44% said they’re more concerned about the cost of products and services for their home. However, two thirds stated they’re happy to pay more for items if they are good quality and last longer than cheaper items. On top of that, nearly half (46%) said it’s important to buy from sustainable businesses that reduce their impact on the environment.

When it comes to choosing local home interiors retailers and suppliers, over half (55%) rely on recommendations or reputation; a half (50%) make their decision based on cost, and 40% want to see proof of previous work and case studies. Over a third (34%) want to be assured the retailer will deliver the products or the work within a certain timeframe, just over a fifth (22%) want to work with businesses that offer a broad range of services or products, and 19% take into consideration any added value services or extra support the businesses are able to offer.

Claire Gamble, MD of Unhooked Communications, which carried out the research, said: “We know from speaking to our clients and contacts in the home interiors industry that many have seen a rise in sales over the last couple of months as people are spending more time at home and are looking to improve their spaces. With our research showing that many consumers are planning further home improvements over the coming months, these are promising signs for retailers.

“But understandably, some people have concerns about visiting shops and showrooms, so it’s no surprise 42% of those questioned said they prefer to search online for inspiration and information more now than they may have 12 months ago. While we know retailers and other specialist home interiors businesses are doing what they can to make shoppers feel safe in store, the sudden changes to our day-to-day lives and ways of working have emphasised the importance of using digital means to engage with customers.

“When it comes to products for the home, consumers often want to see them in person. But with social distancing and limited numbers in stores, home interiors retailers should look at how they can inspire and inform their customers from afar.

“Our research shows YouTube, home and interiors brands’ own websites, social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, and home interior magazines are among the preferred channels for consumers when researching trends and products, and these provide a great first platform for businesses to engage with audiences before welcoming them into their shops. As well as using these channels to showcase products and services, it’s also important for businesses to consider the messaging and stories they convey too as we know consumers are looking for sustainable, local businesses that can deliver quality and reliable products and services.”

According to the research, consumers head to the following channels to find inspiration and information for their home:

·      YouTube (22%)

·      Home and interiors brands’ own websites (18%)

·      Facebook (17%)

·      Home and interiors magazines, online or print (16%)
Instagram (16%)

·      Pinterest (14%)

·      Home and interiors TV programmes (11.49%)

·      Home and interiors bloggers and influencers (9%)