Home Depot is known for selling power tools, hardware, plywood, appliances and everything plumbing from the pipes to kitchen sinks.
But the world’s largest home improvement retailer has quietly and slowly expanded its online inventory to add more home decor, including furniture, towels and wine glasses, officials shared exclusively with USA TODAY.
While the Atlanta-based chain has been in the home décor business since its first stores opened 41 years ago and sells paint, flooring and lighting, the recently launched HD Home is a larger extension of this, Ted Decker, the company’s president and chief operating officer, said in an interview with USA TODAY.
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“We’ve been involved to the tune of billions of dollars. Why wouldn’t we extend what we’re doing in … helping a customer complete their project?” Decker said. “Consumers were going to fewer and fewer retailers even pre-COVID and now, even more so. Why do you want to ask a customer to make two or three stops to finish their project?”
Home improvement projects up
With many spending more time at home amid COVID-19, home improvement projects and decorating have become increasingly popular. Both Home Depot and its largest competitor Lowe’s experiencing record growth in online sales.
During the pandemic, families have made renovations to accommodate remote work and virtual learning, some even expanding their workspaces by buying – or building – a shed for the backyard.
Jeanine Huebner, Home Depot senior vice president of interconnected merchandising, said the company started adding more decor items before the pandemic but has seen interest grow. In late 2017, Home Depot acquired The Company Store, a 109-year-old brand known for its high-end linens and down comforters.
“Since COVID people are engaged in their home they’re undertaking work at home projects,” she said. “Kids furniture and office furniture is just off the charts and people are now investing because they want to make sure that they’re comfortable.”
According to a recent study from the National Kitchen & Bath Association, how consumers use their homes during the pandemic will have a substantial influence on new home design going forward, such as home offices being incorporated into plans.
Lowe’s has made a recent home decor push and in September had curations with fashion designers Jason Wu, Rebecca Minkoff and Christian Siriano during New York Fashion Week.
Store closings bring opportunity
Decker said the home decor market has been hit by store closings, including department stores, which he says is where shoppers previously turned to for decor.
“The traditional outlets that a customer would go to literally are closing their doors and this type of product selection is increasingly moving online,” Decker said.
According to a recent report from real estate data tracker CoStar, more than 40 major retailers have declared bankruptcy and more than 11,000 stores have been announced for closure in 2020, which beats past store closings records.
Macy’s announced plans earlier this year to close 125 stores over the next three years and J.C. Penney, which said this week it has emerged from bankruptcy after being acquired by mall owners Simon and Brookfield, closed 150-plus stores. Pier 1 Imports also closed all of its stores in bankruptcy this year after previously planning to close half of its stores.
COVID-19 accelerated some of the closures but has also pushed more shoppers online.
Home Depot recently upgraded its technology to add curbside pickup like many other retailers. Huebner said the plans are for most of the new home decor categories to stay online only.
There’s been a huge shift in the whole industry this year to online that we’re also seeing the benefit of,” Huebner said. “Our stores aren’t getting bigger and we just wouldn’t have the space to really offer you the collection you’d want to see.”
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Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko