Stores

DIY Boom Continues to Drive Demand for Home Improvement Stores

Home improvement stores are on track to permanently land in the essential services or daily needs category, which retail investors have focused on for years. This year, home improvement activity has increased dramatically, and 40% of consumers have indicated that they plan to continue home improvement projects beyond the recession, according to research from the NPD Group. The activity has driven home improvement store sales up 11% this year.

During the pandemic, home improvement stores have become the second fastest growing retail segment in both brick-and-mortar and online sales. In lawn and garden, tools, paint, kitchen and bath and hardware segments, each saw a double-digit increase in both online and in-store purchases. The average shopping trip also increased 10% compared to the average trip in 2019.

Home Depot Versus Lowe’s

Placer.ai, which also looked closely at shopping trends in the major home improvement brands, found that Lowe’s saw an early surge in sales in April, up 14.1% for the month. Home Depot on the other hand, didn’t see an increase in sales until May, when activity jumped 26%. In the same month, Lowe’s continued to outperform its competitor, seeing a 46.6% increase in sales. Lowe’s has continued to outperform Home Depot through the pandemic, although both have seen significant increased in activity and the gap narrowed. Notably, significant sales growth continued in June and July, well after home improvements’ normal peak season.

A Long Term Trend

Weekly visits have continued to show strong sales, all the way through early August, the most recent data available. According to Placer.ai, this indicates that the home improvement trend could be long term, as the NPD Group data also suggests. The activity has been driven in part by the fact that people are staying at home more, as well as by homeowners that may

Pandemic boredom prompts Halloween decor spree online, on Instacart and in stores

NEW TAMPA — When Target restocked a two-story cardboard haunted house for cats, Megan Copello ordered it immediately for curbside pick-up.

For the last month, Copello’s package deliveries have arrived almost daily. Boxes are packed with witch’s cauldrons, spooky village miniatures and porcelain pumpkins. The 41-year-old is the first to admit she has a problem, but she’s not sorry about it. She has always loved Halloween, but spending more time at home during the pandemic has supercharged her decoration obsession and online holiday shopping.

“I think it’s a mix of boredom dealing with everything,” Copello said. “It gives the this sense of comfort of the holidays coming. It’s Halloween, then it’s Thanksgiving, and then Christmas and then this year is finally over.”

COVID-19 has pushed retailers to build up their digital, pickup and delivery systems to meet increased demand in contactless shopping. Now pop-up seasonal store, Spirit Halloween, is partnering with Instacart to deliver its items like the app does groceries.

Copello’s office is still closed. She works in corporate event planning, so her whole work life has been upended by COVID-19. Decorating has been an outlet.

“We believe the magic of Halloween is transformative,” Spirit CEO Steven Silverstein said in a statement about the Instacart launch. “This year, more than any other, we need the escape that Halloween brings.”

That National Retail Federation’s annual Halloween spending survey taken in early September found that shoppers plan to spend about 4 percent more on Halloween decor than they did last year. Copello said she has noticed items in-store selling out faster than usual.

“I got a giant pumpkin door greet from Sam’s (Club) three weeks ago,” Copello said. “We went back to Sam’s the next day and no more Halloween stuff, like they couldn’t keep it in stock.”

The retail

Bethenny Frankel Buys a Lot of Home Decor, but These Affordable Stores Are Her Faves

Bethenny Frankel has never listened to a podcast before, so, naturally, she decided to launch one of her own. “Everyone said I should listen to other ones, but I don’t want to have a preconceived notion of what successful people are doing and end up with something similar,” she says of her new venture, Just B With Bethenny Frankel. “I don’t like anything derivative.” 

Out now, Just B features interviews with notable figures like Mark Cuban, Bozoma Saint John, Maria Shriver, and Paris Hilton, mixed with the biting humor fans loved from Frankel’s eight-year tenure on The Real Housewives of New York. “This podcast is all me,” she says. “There’s no filler, no foreplay—we get right to the act.”

Her M.O. is untraditional for some of her splashy guests, who are used to knowing what they’re getting into ahead of time. “No one gets the questions in advance,” she says. “I don’t want anything canned. I’m not plowing through questions that are easy to answer—we’re having a conversation. I want to know what dating is like, if you’re lonely, if you feel like your age matters, what work ethic means to you, what it’s like to raise a rich child when you came from nothing…they’re not typical questions.” 

Unsurprisingly, Frankel’s style is working: “People are revealing things for the first time. I’m hearing things I’ve never heard Mark Cuban, Andy Cohen, or Paris Hilton say out loud.” Frankel hopes Just B inspires listeners to apply the wisdom and lessons learned to their own lives. 

And if there’s anything we’ve come to learn about Frankel as a philanthropist, entrepreneur, author, and producer, it’s that she doesn’t do anything half-assed. “One high-profile guest told me it was the best interview they’ve ever done,” she says.

Frankel took a break between

Bethenny Frankel Buys a Lot of Home Decor, But These Affordable Stores Are Her Fave

Bethenny Frankel has never listened to a podcast before. So naturally, she decided to launch one of her own. “Everyone said I should listen to other ones, but I don’t want to have a preconceived notion of what successful people are doing and end up with something similar. I don’t like anything derivative,” she says of her new venture, Just B with Bethenny Frankel.

Out now, Just B features interviews with notable figures like Mark Cuban, Bozoma Saint John, Maria Shriver, and Paris Hilton mixed with the biting humor fans loved from Frankel’s eight-year tenure on The Real Housewives of New York. “This podcast is all me,” she says. “There’s no filler, no foreplay—we get right to the act.”

Her M.O. is untraditional for some of her splashy guests, who are used to knowing what they’re getting into ahead of time. “No one gets the questions in advance,” she says. “I don’t want anything canned. I’m not plowing through questions that are easy to answer—we’re having a conversation. I want to know what dating is like, if you’re lonely, if you feel like your age matters, what work ethic means to you, what it’s like to raise a rich child when you came from nothing…they’re not typical questions.” 

Unsurprisingly, Frankel’s style is working. “People are revealing things for the first time. I’m hearing things I’ve never heard Mark Cuban, Andy Cohen or Paris Hilton say out loud.” Frankel hopes Just B inspires listeners to apply the wisdom and lessons learned to their own lives. 

And if there’s anything we’ve come to learn about Bethenny Frankel as a philanthropist, entrepreneur, author, and producer, it’s that she doesn’t do anything half-assed. “One high profile guest told me it was the best interview they’ve ever done.”

Frankel took a break between