Port Washington, N.Y., April 4, 2022 – Escalating prices have had little impact on consumer demand for core kitchen and bath improvement products through much of the pandemic. In 2021, the average selling price of products related to kitchen and bath home improvements increased 5%, and unit sales rose 15%, according to Enhanced Retail Tracking Service data from The NPD Group. The trend began to equalize toward the end of 2021, with an 8% fourth quarter increase in both average selling price and unit demand compared to the prior year. Early 2022 results illustrate a more traditional correlation between prices and demand, with an 8% increase in average prices and a 2% decline in unit sales in February.
“The kitchen and bath home improvement market is at the crossroads between seemingly unshakable consumer demand and impending vulnerability,” said Joe Derochowski, home industry advisor at NPD. “As consumers begin to emerge from their home-centric pandemic lifestyle and behaviors of the past two years, their needs, spending, and demand will continue to shift.”
Faucets and sinks, the most critical kitchen and bath items, appear to have been affected more by demand than by prices. Since the beginning of 2020, these products have been in high demand with no notable price influence through most of 2021. However, a new trend appeared in January and February 2022 as unit sales of both faucets and sinks took a downturn as prices continued to rise.
The same demand dynamics did not exist for products, like bathtubs, whirlpools, and garbage disposals. Demand for bathtubs and whirlpools was extremely low in 2020, despite a massive decline in prices. Things changed in 2021, when prices rose by double-digits, causing unit demand to decline further. The garbage disposal category tolerated some small price increases, but there were prominent dips in demand through 2021 when prices climbed.
Toilets and bidets were less predictable, when it came to the relationship between price and consumer demand. Unit demand kept rising through the end of 2020 and much of 2021, but price declines were not proportional. When prices did rise in the single digits, sales continued but softened. In January 2022, average selling prices increased by double digits, and units fell slightly for the first time in nearly two years, but quickly rebounded in February.
“Demand variation across categories and recent months signals the need to reevaluate pricing and promotional strategies for home improvement products, based on the consumer’s current frame of mind,” said Derochowski. “This is the time to take action, in order to inspire continued consumer demand and maximize business potential.”