Brits respond positively to DIY retailers’ protective measures

The vast majority of DIY store customers in the UK were satisfied with the measures taken against Covid-19 in the stores. The consulting company Kantar asked shoppers who visited re-opened Homebase and B&Q stores during the last weekend in April to give their views on their experience of social distancing. 85 per cent of customers said that queues were well managed, while 90 per cent agreed or strongly agreed that the safety of staff was being well maintained. The lockdown has seen heightened interest in DIY and gardening, including 43 per cent of shoppers who have taken the opportunity of having more time on their hands to tackle domestic projects. UK retailers including B&Q, Wickes and Homebase began reopening from mid-April, with other stores and garden centres following last week in light of the government's easing of the lockdown. Joanna Parman, strategic insights director at Kantar, comments: "DIY and gardening have become really popular pastimes during lockdown and both B&Q and Homebase have stepped up to the mark to meet this increased demand, operating safely and responsibly, and arguably setting a blueprint for the wider high street." She continues: "With social distancing likely to remain in place for some time yet, those stores that get it right can expect to see customers returning as the nation finds a new rhythm of life and people maintain the hobbies they picked up during lockdown. Nine in ten people who have already visited DIY retailers said they are likely to buy more materials from them in the near future." The re-opening of stores appears to have unleashed pent-up demand among shoppers, as Joanna Parman says: "It's possible that the lockdown has rekindled an interest among latent DIYers and gardeners. We're also seeing new groups of people getting involved for the first time, particularly younger generations." The Kantar study emphasises the importance of physical stores for the DIY sector. "18 per cent of people said they had held back on purchasing items they needed for jobs online as they preferred to shop in store, while 5 per cent of shoppers delayed starting any DIY tasks before stores reopened," Parmann explains. According to Kantar, Internal and external painting alongside gardening jobs, including landscaping and preparing outdoor areas for nicer weather, remain the most popular activities for locked-down consumers.