DANTH has long argued (see the September 3, 2008 post to this blog) that many downtowns are very congenial locations for home and hearth niches. Independent operators in this niche often do not require spaces in vanilla box condition, but will satisfice with serviceable spaces in decent condition that have affordable rents.
Unfortunately, this niche was badly hurt by the Great Recession as deliberate consumers cut back on big ticket GAFO expenditures.
But, with the stalled housing market, folks are paying more attention to improving their current homes and recent improvements in our economy have apparently encouraged them to do so. For example, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker://bit.ly/HBjgwL :
“Most homeowners (70%) have home improvement plans in 2012 and expect to spend an average of $3,500 to spruce up their homes, an increase in $100 from last year. More than one third of homeowners with improvement plans are spending their bucks on home accessories from throw pillows to appliances (an average of $170)—and new furniture (just under $700).”
Furthermore, this uptick in consumer spending plans for home improvements has been mirrored by higher sales reported by Home Depot, Lowes and other major retail chains in this niche.
These facts strongly suggest that now is the time for downtown organizations to focus on the recruitment of new retailers in this niche as well as the expansion of their current home and hearth firms.