While the negative economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the housewares sector remains unchanged (forecast growth in expenditure for 2020 has dropped to minus 14.4% – from £13.6 bn to £11.7 bn compared to 2019), the British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA)’s latest weekly Covid-19 financial update shows some glimmers of hope for the long term.
BHETA is working with GlobalData to supply members with both financial updates and attitudinal consumer surveys; and it is the latter, which is revealing a pattern of changing consumer behaviour, which many of those surveyed expect to be sustained beyond the current crisis. Over 47% of consumers are doing more food preparation and cooking, and while this is mainly necessity, the figures reveal a surge in researching and trying new recipes, showing a level of engagement which is likely to endure.
There is also encouragement for the utility sector with almost 40% doing more household cleaning with over half focussing on surfaces. Laundry products can also expect to benefit with a third of consumers washing clothes more often.
BHETA’S marketing manager, Steve Richardson commented, “As we have seen all products deemed non-essential are suffering economically because
of Covid-19, and while our DIY and garden members are slightly helped as consumers focus on home and garden improvement instead of holidays and trips out, housewares has been very exposed. Nonetheless the longer-term impact of changing consumer behaviour offers some hope for the future when shoppers can buy non-essential items again. There is certainly evidence to suggest that even when they are, big-ticket items will be deferred in favour of smaller items and this is an opportunity for the housewares sector. Other relevant factors in Globaldata’s April consumer survey are an increasing preference for products sourced from the UK or Europe as opposed to from further afield; and third consumers expecting to buy both food and non-food items more frequently online once the pandemic ends.”
Forecasts for the impact of Covid-19 on retail in general remain gloomy. While non-food spend will start to recover in June, more normal spending patterns are not predicted to arrive until October. The total retail market for 2020 is now cited as down to £324.0bn from pre-pandemic forecasts of £346.3bn. With 14.6% of consumers not expecting life to return to normal until the end of the year, retailers are unlikely to experience a full recovery until 2021.