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Are the Big Box HI Stores Getting Their Fair Share?

January 19, 2021
Ashley Jefferson Author 4 mins read
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This piece was updated on January 26 to reflect the latest TraQline US and Monthly data

OPE Maintenance and Repair Parts

When consumers need to invest in Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) like line trimmers, mowers, leaf blowers, etc. they often turn to Big Box Home Improvement (HI) stores. These stores are usually regional or national chains with a big footprint. Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Menards – the three largest Big Box HI stores in the US have dominated the OPE market over the last few years, and collectively command 50% of the unit share of OPE products (source: TraQline, R4Q end Dec 2020). Two of the key factors for their market dominance are the continuing decline of Sears, as well as a decrease in the number of smaller Independent Power dealers. In fact, the OPEAA has observed that the independent dealer count has declined almost 20 percent since 2004.

Retailers large and small not only sell OPE to consumers but also benefit from the sale of repair parts for those products. Comparing retailer market share for OPE vs market share for parts can highlight opportunities for retailers to succeed where their counterparts fail.

Big Box Retailers are not getting their fair share of OPE parts purchases

As it turns out, Big Box retailers like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Menards are underperforming with parts as compared to their OPE sales (34 percent unit share and 50 percent unit share, respectively).  While the usual culprit – online shopping – seems to be to blame, there may be other reasons consumers choose smaller stores over their larger counterparts.

In terms of what consumers are purchasing at the Big Box HI stores, there can still be some disparity between OPE and OPE part purchases. Retailers are seeing the largest gaps between Walk-Behind Mowers and Riding Mowers (54 percent vs 34 percent and 42 percent vs 25 percent, for in-store vs online, respectively). Although it still exists, that gap narrows for products like Line Trimmers and Power Leaf Blowers.

a graph depicting whether OPE repair parts or OPE products were purchased at Big Box Retailers for the R4Q ending Q4 2020
Source: TraQline US and Monthly R4Q End Dec 2020

Big Box Retailers are not a parts “destination location”

Much like Miami, Florida is considered a vacation destination location over somewhere like Miami, Ohio, shoppers just don’t regard Big Box retailers as a stop for maintenance and repair parts in the same way they regard Big Box as a stop for OPE in general. For example, Home Depot shoppers are nearly 60%  percent more likely to shop the store for OPE than for OPE parts.

That said, when shoppers do visit Big Box HI stores for OPE parts, the Big Box stores are more likely to close the sale. In fact, close rates for parts at Big Box retailers are 5-10 percent higher than close rates for their respective OPE products. Consumers cite the convenience of purchase as their top reason for buying parts at a Big Box, mentioning reasons like ConvenienceAlready in store, and Seeing a Display.

So, if consumers aren’t shopping at Big Box HI stores, where are they going? The three biggest competitors are Walmart (itself a Big Box store, though not solely focused on HI), Independent Power Dealers, and Amazon

You cannot neglect online retail

When it comes to online versus brick and mortar, about 25 percent of repair parts are purchased online. Compared to that industry benchmark, Big Box HI stores have a lot of ground to make up—only 9 percent of their parts sales are made online. When shopping online for repair parts, data indicates that consumers gravitate elsewhere due to a perception of better prices and selection as compared to Big Box HI’s online storefronts.

Big Box HI Stores Have Share to Claim

Big Box retailers have dominated the OPE market over the past few years, driven by aggressive marketing efforts combined with the decline of rivals such as Sears and Independent Power Dealer locations. However, when it comes to parts, these large retailers lag behind independents. Consumers have not yet embraced Big Box HI retailers as a destination for parts purchases, preferring to make purchases based on convenience. By being more aggressive with advertising and increasing their focus on online selection, Big Box HI retailers may make a play to gain share more in line with their OPE share.

Until recently, retailers only had their own internal sales data for visibility around customers’ purchases of maintenance and repair parts. Recognizing this gap in available data, TraQline developed a survey designed to track OPE maintenance and repair part (MRP) purchases. With data going back to 2018, we can begin answering questions like “Are Big Box HI stores getting their fair share of OPE parts purchases?” Interested in the data behind this piece? Contact David Garcia at TraQline today!