The UK DIY / homewares market and the pandemic – we look back at the sector that thrived in 2020

Article by Joe Martin | 20th August 2021

Nobody was sorry to see the back of 2020. Frightening and boring in equal measure, it was a year that few of us will remember fondly. Aside from the physical threat of the virus, there was also the economic impact of multiple lockdowns to contend with. This hit the retail sector especially hard:

It wasn’t all bad news

But there were bright spots amongst the doom and gloom. The pandemic showed the UK at its most generous. The public came together to show their support for the NHS, key workers and, most importantly, each other. From Clap for Carers to Captain Tom, you didn’t have to look far to find inspiring stories of people pitching in for the greater good.

Retail too had its moments of triumph. Supermarkets and other grocery stores were instrumental in keeping the country fed and watered. Colleagues rose to the challenge admirably, managing outdoor queues, enforcing social distancing and helping to curb panic buying. A recent survey found that 90% of the UK public believe that retail colleagues provided an essential service during the pandemic. 

Britain gets handy 

But the real success story of 2020 was the DIY and homeware sector. With millions of people stuck indoors for months on end, the nation turned its attention to home improvement:

  • Online sales of DIY products grew by 50% during the first lockdown
  • The average person spent 39 minutes a day on DIY and gardening in March and April 2020, an increase of 143%. 
  • The UK economy rallied in late summer and early autumn , and this was largely due to a 9.9% increase in DIY and homeware spending. 

The rise of Click & Collect

More time spent indoors was a major factor in the DIY boom of 2020. But credit must also go to the stores themselves, many of whom were quick to adapt to the new landscape. Responding to customer anxieties around crowded indoor spaces, DIY retailers began offering outdoor Click & Collect services. It turned out to be the perfect solution, and this was reflected in sales figures:

  • B&Q saw online sales rise by 200% after it began offering next day collection from Click & Collect points in its car parks
  • Wickes’ Click & Collect sales increased by 450% in 2020, making the company more profitable than it had been before the pandemic
  • A third of UK online sales in 2020 involved Click & Collect 

Find out how DIY and homeware stores are embracing omnichannel shopping: 

VoCoVo is the perfect fit for DIY stores

We’re proud to count some of the UK’s top DIY and homeware stores among our customers. We can’t take much of the credit for their success in 2020, but we like to think that we helped in a few small ways:

  • Our call points can be placed on Click & Collect desks during quiet periods. This allows colleagues to get on with other work when there are no customers around. Customers can press the call point and check on the status of their order without having to join the main queue. 
  • Wickes uses our headsets across 200 of its stores. The powerful signal allows colleagues to communicate easily across large floor spaces and storage areas. This has improved customer service dramatically as colleagues can find information and answer questions without having to walk long distances. 
  • We improved security at Dunelm by integrating our headsets with the store’s tannoy system. Colleagues can trigger an automated alert at the press of a button without drawing attention to themselves. This has helped to reduce shoplifting and stop abusive behaviour towards colleagues. 

Find out more about improving security with VoCoVo:

The DIY sector was a beacon of hope in 2020. Now, with things finally returning to normal, we hope that other retailers can match its success. Whatever you sell, we can help you to improve team communication, speed up customer service and crack down on crime. 

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