Economy

DIY rage creates empty shelves: often no brush anymore

We are doing some work on this crisis. Since March 12, staying home has been the motto to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus. Since then, hardware stores and do-it-yourself shops are par excellence.

A huge peak was already visible in March. In the third week of March, hardware stores combined more than 50 percent more compared to a year earlier. Over the entire month of March, turnover was about a quarter more – the largest increase since 2005 – which also increased the quarterly turnover of the DIY industry by 13.6 percent, Statistics Netherlands reported.

Shortages are increasing

Hardware stores are still seeing an increase in the number of sales and visits. The demand for certain products is so great that many branches are now experiencing shortages, according to a tour of RTL Z in the traditionally busy week of Ascension Day.

This mainly concerns products that are already doing well in this period: garden items, wood and building materials and paint products such as brushes, rollers, paint trays and sandpaper.

“The turnover rates of these products are fast,” said spokesman Desiree Schelle of Intergamma, the parent company of the 350 Dutch DIY stores of Gamma and Karwei. “Paint remains the most accessible job and people look a little more at their house in these times. But nobody could have predicted that the demand would increase that way.”

From shipping to aviation

Where many hardware store companies continue to ship these items from Asia in particular, they now opt for air freight. This is partly due to the enormous demand and partly because factories in China and Southern Europe, among others, have been down for weeks.

By flying in products, Intergamma says it will save six weeks. Schelle: “A lot usually goes by sea, with long delivery times. We now have to be creative in our purchasing.”

Do-it-yourself chain Praxis, where mainly stocks of paint-related products are shrinking, has opted for the same method. “We are constantly looking for alternatives in the market. We have flown in extra stock from China and the paint accessories factories in Southern Europe are now underway,” the company says.

Praxis, which, like other market players, suffered from transport problems due to the closure of borders, aims to restore the stocks in its 193 stores as quickly as possible.

Private entrance for construction workers

The Hornbach hardware store has also changed its strategy, albeit in a different way. “We normally have eight weeks of stock in-house. But that has been increased to twelve weeks at an early stage to prevent liver problems,” says Hornbach spokesman Maarten Post.

In addition, Hornbach expanded access for professional handymen. Construction workers were given a separate entrance this month and are also allowed to enter the fifteen branches exclusively in the evenings. Post: “They lost a lot of time because of the crowds and could not go on to their next project.”

At Action, which also sells paint supplies, they also see the workload increasing during the corona period. “People like to use their time to do odd jobs around the house. We see this in sales of paint, brushes and do-it-yourself products,” says spokesman Christiaan Deurloo.

Supplement and purchase

Like the other retail chains, Action does not want to reveal turnover figures, but does state that turnover is increasing and that this is ‘clearly attributable to the fact that many people are doing odd jobs at home’. Deurloo also lets go that Action continues to replenish and buy the sold-out popular products as much as possible these days.

For example, all DIY stores expect to avoid empty shelves in the short term. However, whether the anger will persist in the longer term remains to be seen, given the predicted recession, which will involve layoffs and declining purchasing power.

For example, Intergamma CEO Harm-Jan Stoter announced at BNR earlier this week that his company will temporarily stop the planned millions of investments in its own shops and internet platforms in order to have enough cash in house to get through the coming uncertain times.

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