Keeping an eye on trends and economic indicators can help store owners determine what’s on the minds of consumers. It enables organizations to prioritize buying and selling the best products for specific markets. Retailers can also focus on critical aspects of the business that increase foot traffic and drive profitability. People are uncertain about the future, so they trim costs to save money.
Tighter Budgets Cause Surge in MRO Projects
Last year homeowners tackled expensive renovations and were willing to wait months for the services of contractors. Disruptions in the supply chain created a ripple effect that caused contractors to search the market to obtain the materials necessary to fulfill contractual obligations.
However, rising inflation, escalating material costs, and an unpredictable housing market have changed consumers’ perspectives. When people are uncertain about the future, they spend less on non-essentials and hire others to complete tasks they can do themselves.
According to Mallory Micetich, home expert at Angi, “optional projects” aren’t top-of-mind for homeowners. “With inflation still on the rise, most people won’t be rushing to take on fully optional projects. Homeowners are more likely to focus on non-discretionary projects, like fixing a broken fence or repairing a burst pipe.” In cases where homeowners choose to tackle more expensive projects, it will be done in conjunction with a related repair that is necessary to maintain essential functions within the home.”
Buying Used and Repairing Products Go Mainstream
Consumers are committing to slow down consumption—repairing, reusing, recycling, and thrifting will motivate shoppers to buy fewer new products and invest more in the product life cycle. While focusing on sustainability isn’t a new trend for shoppers or retailers, Gen Z is using its buying power to take the movement to the next level. While fashion retailers like Patagonia, Eddie Bauer, and Eileen Fisher were pioneers at the forefront of the sustainability movement, Walmart has now opted to sell pre-owned items.
Reducing Energy Consumption
One of the easiest ways to save money is to make a home more energy efficient. Consumers are making it a priority to buy products that can lower their utility bills. Some home fixes to improve energy efficiency are more expensive than others. However, home improvement stores and larger home centers offer many solutions. These products can include low-flush toilets, specialty showerheads that monitor water flow, and smart thermostats. On a grander scale, the Inflation Reduction Access offers numerous tax credits that make it appealing for homeowners to install solar panels and energy-saving equipment.
How Retailers Benefit from These Trends
One of the most significant challenges for hardware store owners is effectively communicating what services and products the business offers to customers and the community. It’s essential to tell your story in as many ways as possible—on your website, social media, customer reviews, and by word-of-mouth. Placing weekly sales flyers in a bin inside the store may have worked in the past, but technology changed the game.
Hardware stores’ advantage is the ability to foster trust and build authentic relationships with customers. It helps to be the neighborhood’s “go-to” place for advice, maintenance, and repair products. Your business is already positioned to leverage many trends driving consumer buying behavior this year. It requires doing more to create awareness by highlighting and promoting the products and services you already offer.
Build Endcaps that Promote Energy Savings
Create an end cap filled with products to help shoppers reduce energy costs. Staples can include CFL bulbs, furnace filters, power strips, and flaps for dryer vents. The product assortment can change based on the season. Winter is an excellent season to promote window and door caulk, window wrap, and high-tech thermostats.
Promoting Specialty Services
Many customers need to be made aware of available services because the information may not be posted in-store or on your website. Start by posting signs on the windows to get the attention of pedestrians walking by—place signs in high-visibility areas inside the business. Also, post information on the website and social media and in targeted emails throughout the year.
When establishments can help people whittle down their “to-do,” they are motivated to become loyal customers. That’s a valuable asset for every business.