COVID-19 is shaping shopping behavior. That’s been bad news for retailers on many fronts — but certainly not all. Here’s a sampling some of the items shoppers have been snapping up for their homes.
The Shops at Rockvale, located off Route 30 in East Lampeter Township, have seen a lower traffic count than usual over the past few months, says manager Kristi Burkholder. But sales reports show that those shoppers who are there are buying more things — especially if those things are related to eating at home, says Burkholder.
“The kitchen stores are out of control,” she says.
Foodie-focused business is also brisk at Zest! in Lititz. There, manager Elizabeth Elia says shoppers are increasingly investing in quality basics like kitchen scales. Pizza stones also are selling. So is anything having to do with bread.
“They’re getting serious about baking. One item that is selling like crazy now is the Danish bread whisk,” Elia says of the circular tool used for denser doughs and batters. “We can’t keep them in stock.”
Tina Ator, owner of Olde Mill House Shoppes in Lancaster, says she has noticed a renewed interest in larger furniture pieces and lighting rather than smaller, “knick-knack-type” purchases.
Customers are looking ahead to the future too, specifically to Christmas gifts and holiday items. Ator says customers started asking her to display those in September.
“They don’t know what is going to happen, so they want to be prepared,” she says. “Some of them want to get it now while they are out and about.”
From paint to tools, people are buying for do-it-yourself projects. Second-quarter revenue was up 30% over the same period last year at Lowe’s and 23% at Home Depot.
“Most of us are forced to spend more time at home than we ever have in our lifetimes,” Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison told analysts in August. “Customers have been finding projects around the house. (They) have been on the list, they just haven’t had the chance to get to them. Or, candidly, they just hadn’t noticed them.”
Mount Joy company Fontana Candle Co. markets to health-conscious shoppers. Its tagline: “The world is full of toxins, but we don’t think they should be in your candles.” Pair that timely stance with a product that makes a direct impact on home ambience. The result?
“Our sales are up 500% since the start of the pandemic,” says Katie Roering, CEO of the company she co-founded in 2018. Fontana is pushing to keep up with e-commerce demand for fall and recently rolled out a holiday lineup with traditional scents like Fraser fir and peppermint.
“People want tradition right now,” Roering says. “I think it’s comforting.”
“We’ve been flooded with requests,” says Jack Messina, business development manager of Bird-in-Hand-based Adventure World Playsets. He says overall sales have at least doubled this year.
Messina handles sales for the Midwest and West Coast, not including Texas or Oklahoma.
“Just to give you an idea, last year I sold five or six,” he says. “This year I’ve had requests for 45. I’ve sold 40 so far. The others didn’t want to wait.”
Adventure World uses vinyl, and Messina says there have been supply delays. Other builders have had trouble securing wood.
“I believe — though I don’t know this for sure — that one of the reasons for the shortage of lumber is that people are building their own,” he says. “They’ve been contacting us looking just for slides. They’re also put those off their decks. And one guy put a slide from the laundry room going down to his private basketball court.”
“Any kind of furniture for anywhere the family gathers are all just hot categories,” says Michele Dissinger, director of merchandising at Interiors Home on Columbia Avenue. “It seems like people are just doing a total refresh.”
In preparation for her buying trip at High Point Market in North Carolina this month, Dissinger has been watching home trend webinars.
“They say uncertainty creates longing,” she says. “So with that comes a lot of tactility and texture and organic materials. We were already seeing that. But it’s really kind of ramped up.”
“Treadmills. Weight benches. Anything you can use to exercise at home we can’t keep in,” says Brian Millaway, manager of Lancaster’s Play It Again Sports.
There’s also been a rush on disc golf supplies. Millaway estimates that since reopening in May, the store has sold around 3,500 discs.
More than 76.8 million: That’s how many connected fitness workouts Peloton reported for April, May and June — up from 17.8 million during the same quarter last year.
Peloton CEO John Foley told investors in September that the company was still increasing bike manufacturing capacity to keep up with the “tailwind” that started in March.
Bronze: The color of the year
Sherwin-Williams announced in September that its 2021 color of the year is Urbane Bronze from its “Sanctuary” palette.
“Urbane Bronze is a comforting color, drawing from nature for a feeling of relaxation and serenity,” announced Sue Wadden, director of color marketing in a news release. “There’s also a reassurance in its sentimentality, with nostalgic ties to the ’70s and ’90s, but with gray undertones that give it a distinctly modern twist.”
Home office supplies
Desks and bookshelves are moving at Moyer’s Furniture Store in Mount Joy, says Warren Raffensberger, the owner’s cousin and self-described jack-of-all-trades. “We’ve already probably doubled what we normally do in a year with those,” he says. “It doesn’t matter what they look like. They come in and they go right out.”