From toilet paper to lysol wipes. Yeast, flour and exercise equipment, if there is one thing the Covid-19 pandemic has proven, its that nothing can stop people from spending money. We all know that person,` maybe it was you! The pandemic baker or the pandemic exercise guru. Even I took up a short stint trying to bake bread when Covid-19 sent everyone scrambling for yeast, (it was a short career). As unnerving as it was to see grocery stores with empty shelves that would otherwise normally have some of the important household cooking and cleaning supplies, that was just the begining of the big spending. International travel became difficult if not impossible to most people (with borders still closed, the forecast still appears to be a distant possibility) which means people have had to get used to spending more time at home and in their own backyard.

More time at home also meant home renovations & upgrades which were some of the biggest expenditures in 2020. BNN - Bloomberg noted that - "Canadian homeowners shelled out $80.1 billion on home renovations in 2019, according to a new report from Altus Group. The real estate data firm said overall spending was up 2.6 per cent in the year, outpacing overall economic growth and the year still has 4 months left! According to the report, about 75 per cent of that spending was on home upgrades, with the remainder earmarked for necessary repairs. That $61.2 billion spent on upgrades roughly matched overall spending on new home construction", according to Altus. Outdoor space, landscaping & deck renovations and pool sales & installations were reported to be up by as much as 50% year over year. Not only were in-ground pool sales higher but also above ground and inflatable pools for kids that can be purchased at Costco and Canadian tire were in short supply and high demand. As many people foresee less travel upgrading their backyard is a logical place to upgrade and has also made properties that had pools more attractive with buyers than usual. Many pool companies have been advising people that want a pool lock in soon as possible as availability has been an ongoing issue. 

The rise in the number of people working from home has changed the game for real estate as well, millions of Canadians are now less tethered to downtown offices. That's leading to either moving to get more house and sacrificing for a longer commute or spending money to make their homes better suited for the "new normal". People want more room and more space — home offices set up for video conferencing are in high demand as well as home gyms & finished basements. These have also been some of the most popular renovations this year. 

Kitchen and bath renos have always been popular remodeling choices, but even those saw a 40% jump in demand in June compared with a year ago. More people are cooking and eating at home, and kitchens are now even more the centre of family life. Home extensions and additions jumped 52%, and security and privacy also saw much greater demand with interest in fence installation and repairs up 166%. Homeowners are likely getting extra incentive from the record high amount of home equity they now have. Home prices continue to gain, despite the economic downturn, as demand for housing soars.

There were other sales surprises as well. Outdoor sports equipment sales skyrocketed. Beyond the bicycles, it was atvs', dirt bikes, motorbikes, boats, outboard engines and everything outdoors that quickly became next to impossible to find at a reasonable price if at all. Some off road sports motor bike and atv dealers reported up to a 70% increase in sales year over year from spring throughout the summer. According to many Ontario motorsports dealers many people were buying kids dirt bikes and atvs' knowing that they were going to be at home and out of school for the foreseeable future. If the spring/summer of 2020 spending is any indication most believe fall/winter will bring new hot ticket, hard to find items. The expectation that home activity items like gaming systems, skates, skating rink equipment, toboggans, skis, snowmobiles, renovation equipment like ladders and paint, decorations for Halloween or Christmas, craft supplies and work-from-home items like furniture and computer accessories are going to be flying off the shelves. 

 Stay Healty!

Posted by Paul Ambler on
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