Product availability, competitive prices, and customer service — these seem to be the most important factors to Americans shopping for home improvement supplies.
But one store, in particular, seems to reign supreme in all these categories: The Home Depot. According to a Today’s Homeowner survey of more than 3,000 Americans, Home Depot was the top home improvement store for consumers. The survey also found that Americans feel strong loyalty toward their preferred home improvement store.
This report comprehensively examines how U.S. shoppers feel about national and local hardware stores and how consumers approach shopping for home improvement supplies. Check out our findings below.
- Home Depot is the most popular home improvement store in 29 states and Washington D.C.
- Americans report incredibly high brand loyalty for their favorite home improvement stores, with only 7% of survey respondents saying they have no preference.
- On a scale of 1 to 10 (where 1 indicates low brand loyalty and 10 high), nearly 45% of respondents rank their brand loyalty as an 8 or higher. In fact, 15% of respondents rank their loyalty as 10 out of 10.
- Ace Hardware has more than double the number of stores compared to Home Depot and Lowe’s, but less than 6% of Americans say it’s their favorite home improvement store.
- Though younger Americans are more likely to shop for home products online, brick-and-mortar hardware stores remain in high demand as many customers seek in-person sales assistance.
- Roughly 65% of survey respondents say they visit the hardware store at least monthly.
Favorite Home Improvement Stores
The Home Depot is the preferred hardware store among survey respondents, securing more than 44% of the vote. The retailer has an estimated 2,300 stores in North America and has at least one location in every U.S. state and Washington, D.C.
Lowe’s follows closely behind as the second favorite home improvement store, with roughly 32% of survey respondents citing the chain as their top choice. Lowe’s has fewer locations than Home Depot (just over 1,700 stores) but can also be found in every state plus Washington, D.C.
With over 5,000 stores worldwide, Ace’s Hardware vastly outnumbers Home Depot and Lowe’s. However, less than 6% of Americans chose Ace Hardware as their top choice for home improvement shopping.
Local hardware stores also struggle, with less than 2% of respondents preferring a local shop compared to the four major chains: Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menards, and Ace Hardware.
The survey revealed that preferred home improvement stores varied based on geographic location. As previously noted, Home Depot is the most popular home improvement store in 29 states and Washington D.C. and is particularly popular on the East and West Coast.
Menards is popular in the Midwest, ranking as the top home improvement store in seven states — Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. In six of those seven states (all but Nebraska), 40% or more of survey respondents listed Menards as their favorite home improvement store. Menards only has about 300 stores across 15 Midwest, South, and Mountain states.
Ace Hardware was not the top home improvement store in any state. However, it is more popular in several Western states. Roughly one in five shoppers in New Mexico and Montana cited the chain as their favorite spot, along with more than one in seven shoppers in Oregon.
Home Improvement Brand Loyalty
Only about 7% of individuals surveyed said they did not prefer a specific home improvement store. Hand-in-hand with that, most respondents said they had strong brand loyalty for their favorite store.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (where 1 indicates low brand loyalty and 10 high), nearly 45% of respondents rank their hardware brand loyalty as an 8 or higher. Furthermore, 15% of respondents rank their loyalty as 10 out of 10. More than one in five respondents say they are willing to travel more than 30 minutes to shop at their favorite hardware store.
Strong brand loyalty for home improvement stores notably bucks the trend of declining brand loyalty across consumer products over the past several years. In a 2022 study conducted by TechSee, researchers found that consumer loyalty toward brands has declined since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. They found that nearly one in three consumers lack brand loyalty generally, while only one in 10 consumers lack brand loyalty when it comes to home improvement stores.
Most Important Qualities in a Home Improvement Store
When asked what qualities shoppers looked for in a home improvement store, most ranked product availability (43.7%) and competitive prices (34.4%) as the most important considerations.
The store layout was the least important consideration, along with discounts offered and the distance from the shoppers’ homes.
How Important Is Customer Service?
Most respondents seem to agree that being offered help by a sales associate is important at a hardware store. Nearly 86% of Americans say it was somewhat, moderately, or very important.
In-Person vs. Online Home Improvement Shopping
Home improvement stores also defy trends in online shopping. Despite recent surges in online shopping — especially during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic — most Americans (69.2%) report that they are much more likely to shop for home improvement products at a brick-and-mortar location than online.
Unsurprisingly, younger generations are more likely to order online, even when it comes to home improvement products. Relative to the average across all generations, nearly double the share of 18- to 24-year-olds say they are more likely to order products online than visit a home improvement store.
In stark contrast, more than three in four respondents ages 55 and older say they are more likely to visit a brick-and-mortar hardware store. The chart below shows shopping habits by age.
The general interest in in-person home improvement shopping — even across younger generations — may be a product of seeking personalized help. Nearly 45% of survey respondents expect to be offered assistance while shopping at a home improvement store, while less than 10% have no such expectation. Roughly 46% of individuals say it depends on the situation.
Home Improvement Shopping Habits
There is a wide range of how often individuals visit the hardware store. According to our data, close to one in five Americans visit the hardware store at least once a week. Meanwhile, close to one in 10 respondents say they visit the hardware store less than once a year.
Our research reveals interesting patterns in home improvement shopping patterns. Bucking popular trends in online shopping and declining brand loyalty, Americans continue to prioritize the in-person home improvement shopping experience and remain dedicated to supporting their favorite stores. Home Depot and Lowe’s come out on top as the most popular home improvement stores with consumers appreciating their available products and competitive prices.
Today’s Homeowner surveyed roughly 3,200 Americans using a third-party platform to better understand individuals’ preferences for different home improvement stores and their shopping habits. Survey respondents spanned all 50 states and were over the age of 18. Survey data for this report was collected from March 28, 2023 through April 2, 2023.
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