The 26th of March marks a full year of COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa, albeit at different levels with varying restrictions on activity. One of the trends that emerged over this period and shows no signs of abating, is South Africans’ increased investment in home improvement.
“The number of monthly requests posted on Kandua.com has increased more than seven-fold – 750% – as compared to April last year. Renovation requests have doubled,” says Graeme Steen, Chief Operations Officer of South African online home services marketplace, Kandua.com. Homeowners use Kandua.com to connect with home service providers such as plumbers, electricians and builders, for everything from urgent repairs to full renovations.
The increased demand for home improvement-related products and services is a fact that Cedric Sennepin, CEO of Leroy Merlin South Africa underpins, saying: “Our initial market research indicated how much South Africans love their homes, and love making changes to them. This has only accelerated over the past year”,
“Since we reopened our doors to the public on the 1st of May 2020 after the strict lockdown had eased, we have experienced an ongoing increase in sales.”
The French home improvement retailer entered South Africa in 2017 and is opening its fourth store in Fourways, Gauteng on 26 March 2021. Leroy Merlin partners with Kandua to offer installation services to its customers in addition to its range of home products.
Steen and Sennepin point out a few of the drivers behind this trend:
1. More time spent at home
“We’re spending more time at home than ever before. This means more wear and tear around the home and also that you’re more likely to notice issues or have ideas around areas for home improvement,” says Sennepin.
“During the initial weeks of strict lockdown, only emergency home repair services could operate. When lockdown eased, there was not only pent-up demand, but also an overall increase in improvements and fixes that people wanted to conduct in their homes,” adds Steen.
2. Homes have become multifunctional spaces
“Our homes are no longer just a place that we come back to at the end of the day. Over the past year, our homes have also become our offices, classrooms, gyms, movie theatres and even restaurants,” says Steen. “This is reflected in the increased demand for renovation services. People are transforming their spaces to adapt to their changing lifestyles, and are investing money, that would normally be spent on things like travel and entertainment, into their homes.”
3. A role for the pros and for the enthusiasts
At first, many homeowners took on relatively simple DIY projects as a stress reliever or a fulfilling way to spend their initial idle time at home. “We saw a massive increase in sales for interior paint, decorative, gardening and organisational products,” observes Sennepin.
As the demands on time and homes increased, more people turned to professionals to get the job done. Steen notes how this fact and the overall consumer shift to online alternatives has benefited Kandua: “Even though the nature of the work requires your service provider to be physically present, our online platform allows you to do everything up to that point – from finding the right type of expert to comparing reviews and quotes – from the comfort of your couch. Kandua Pros have also been fully equipped to follow the appropriate COVID-19 safety protocols.”
What’s currently trending?
Steen and Sennepin point out that the kind of home improvements that South Africans are likely to continue investing in are in line with global trends. Outdoor living has always been a feature in our sunny climate, and great outdoor spaces provide safe alternatives for entertaining small groups at home. Working from home is here to stay, so upgrades in lighting, creating workspaces that are shielded from noise and interference, and upgrades in connectivity are also on the cards for the coming year.