DIY shop sector trends

Two customers in DIY shop being served by employees with multiple tools in background

(last updated July 2019)

What has been happening in the DIY goods retailing sector

Consumer spending on materials for DIY projects has been falling for many years according to government figures. There are a number of reasons for this including the recent economic downturn which squeezed people's disposable income levels, the housing market crash in the late 2000s and its after-effects in the 2010s and also because of a growing trend for people to get a tradesperson in rather than do the work themselves.

2015 saw the economy and the housing market looking up but demand weakened again in 2016. The UK's vote in June to leave the EU led to lower growth during 2017 and 2018 and the property market continues to remain subdued.

The DIY sector is dominated by large multiple chains such as B&Q who operate from large 'sheds' and stock a very wide range of DIY goods, hardware goods, gardening equipment and so on. Non-specialist retailers, such as the multiple supermarket chains, also sell some DIY goods and many builders' merchants now make their products available to the public and not just to the trade.

In response to strong competition and the recent difficult trading conditions, many of the specialist multiple chains have cut their prices, making it difficult for the independent to compete on price alone. As a result, the traditional independent DIY goods retailer has suffered and many have been squeezed out of the market altogether in recent years. In order to survive, some independents have mirrored the multiples and stock a wide range of different items whereas others have specialised to appeal to a niche market.

You will have to decide in the face of such strong competition whether:

  • there is sufficient demand in your area to support your proposed business
  • you will be able to compete against all the other outlets selling DIY goods
  • you will be able to weather the housing market and economic slowdown forecast for the next year or two

Keep up to date with developments

Joining a trade association is an excellent way of staying up to date with developments in your industry.

The DIY sector is represented by the British Hardware Federation, which is a specialist division of the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA).

You may also wish to contact the Builders' Merchants Federation (BMF) as the DIY and builders' merchants sectors overlap to a certain extent.

DIY Week is a trade journal aimed at DIY and hardware retailers. Subscribing to a trade journal like DIY Week is an excellent way of keeping up to date with trends in the industry, new product launches, trade shows and so on.

Visit their websites for more information.

Trade shows

You will be able to obtain a lot of useful information if you go to a trade show for the DIY sector. You will be able to meet manufacturers, suppliers and importers and plan your future stock buying. Information about forthcoming trade shows can be found on the exhibitions website.

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