From Hammering to Homemaking: The Rise of ‘Soft DIY’

By: James Flippin · June 13, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Less Drilling, More Chilling

Traditionally, Home Depot (HD) and Lowe’s (LOW) have been the go-to destinations for DIY enthusiasts who love rolling up their sleeves for some serious home improvement projects. But recently, these retail giants have made a place for vases, decorative pillows, artificial flowers, and candles alongside longtime staples like drills and nails.

The introduction and subsequent expansion of what some are affectionately calling “soft DIY” marks a significant shift in these stores’ product offerings. It reflects a new wave of home improvement that isn’t necessarily about tearing down walls or building furniture, but rather personalizing and beautifying living spaces.

Fresh Coat of Profits

While it might seem counterintuitive for home improvement stores to pivot toward home decor, the past six years tell a different story. These items have been pulling impressive numbers for retailers like Home Depot and Lowe’s.

At Home Depot, the decor and storage category’s percentage share of sales has grown the most of almost any category since 2017, outpaced only by appliances. Despite this, it still has the smallest share overall.

At Lowe’s, decor has performed even better. The category accounted for 5.4% of sales in 2022, surpassing other traditional categories like tools and flooring.

Home decor sales have doubled at both chains since 2017.

Renovation Refresh

The soft DIY expansion reflects a substantial change in how consumers manage their homes. Instead of the typical renovations and rebuilds, the focus appears to be on freshening up the home with appealing aesthetic touches.

According to experts, this shift marks a second wave of home projects, following the initial “hard DIY” wave that took off during the COVID lockdown. As lockdown restrictions eased, consumers switched from substantial home purchases to decorating, motivated in part by adapting to new ways of living and working.

So, next time you’re at Home Depot or Lowe’s, don’t be surprised if you find yourself checking out with a plush pillow instead of a power drill.

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