DIY sales surge amid Coronavirus crisis as delay 'excuses' dwindle

Plenty of people are trying to put a positive spin on being isolated at home, writes Caroline Delaney.

DIY sales surge amid Coronavirus crisis as delay 'excuses' dwindle

Plenty of people are trying to put a positive spin on being isolated at home.

DIY jobs 'on the long finger' while we had gyms or pubs to go to and friends to meet up with can no longer be ignored.

Scuffed skirting boards or outdated paint colour on the walls seem to be proving impossible to live with for many people now that they are in their homes for the majority — or all — of each day.

Paint and DIY supply shops have seen a surge in business as people tackle everything from minor touch-up jobs to paint makeovers or furniture upcycling projects.

However, with social distancing rules and a heightened awareness of infection dangers, stores have put limits on numbers allowed inside at any one time as well as stepping up deliveries.

Pat McDonnell Paints has eight stores around the country and are "extremely busy right now" — but, avoiding infection spread is also a priority.

Director, Aidan McDonnell, said: "Our first priority right now is for the wellbeing of our own staff and that of our customers.

"We've initiated a new queuing system limiting the number of customers in-store at any one time to match an available sales assistant, which results in no customer waiting in-store.

"There has been great co-operation between our sales teams who control access to our stores and our customers who appreciate the need for all of us to follow the protocols set out by the HSE."

Some things have had to be curtailed, says Mr McDonnell:

We feel it is no longer appropriate to offer our 'unique colour consultancy' service due to the one-to-one personal interaction involved.

He says people are very understanding of the rules and limits in place: "We're finding that people are coming in more prepared with a clearer understanding of their requirements.

"We've also noticed that people are generally making non-cash payments and, to be honest, we're encouraging this.

"Our free delivery service to homes and businesses remains fully in place and you can also phone in your order to your local store and we will have it ready for collection and this 'call & collect' approach is operating well."

Paint Depot in Douglas in Cork also has increased interest from householders in recent weeks.

Marketing manager, Derek Byrne, said: "We have had a lot of business from people who are sitting in the house looking at jobs they put off for so long."

The store is maintaining minimal contact and social distancing policies thanks to a separate customer area and is also doing paint deliveries or taking phone orders and having the supplies ready for collection.

"We have noticed a few different types of DIYers — some are going for a 10litre standard emulsion and just freshening up and others are taking on furniture projects.

"Sanding, priming and painting an old chair or cabinet is almost like a kind of mindfulness. It's great, and some people are starting projects like this with their children as they are off school," says Mr Byrne.

Pat and Gillian Mulcahy, Douglas, Cork, in the colour showroom at the Fleetwood Paint Depot, St. Patrick's Woollen Mills, Douglas, Cork. Picture Denis Minihane.
Pat and Gillian Mulcahy, Douglas, Cork, in the colour showroom at the Fleetwood Paint Depot, St. Patrick's Woollen Mills, Douglas, Cork. Picture Denis Minihane.

Some very popular colours are a dark, inky blue for furniture such as a chest of drawers — "people are dressing this up then with gold or ivory-white handles".

And he has noticed a shift away from pure grey colours.

"People are going for a colour called 'grey nuance' which is actually a lovely light and versatile blue-green."

Hickeys on Cork's Maylor Street has been a go-to shop for wallpaper and paint as well as household and garden goods since 1923.

They are busy with people popping in for paint and DIY supplies, says manager, Michael Murphy.

People are tipping away at household jobs now that they are at home. They are coming in for paint and other things such as gloves and sanitisers — we have plenty carbolic soap and a lot of people are buying that.

Pet food, and cat and dog treats and toys, have also been big sellers at Hickeys in recent weeks, says Mr Murphy.

Michael Murphy, manager, Hickeys of Maylor St., Cork, with some of the products, Little Green paints, pet food, carbolic soap, Dettol soap and hygiene spray which are in high demand at Hickeys. Picture Denis Minihane.
Michael Murphy, manager, Hickeys of Maylor St., Cork, with some of the products, Little Green paints, pet food, carbolic soap, Dettol soap and hygiene spray which are in high demand at Hickeys. Picture Denis Minihane.

Despite being busy, he says he has had time to notice some paint and decor trends: "Little Greene paint is very popular altogether."

And in what may be more of a reaction to darker times than just a fashion trend, he says he sees people opting for cheery or bright colours: "I see that the popularity of grey is after calming down. People are going for stronger or brighter colours lately."

More in this section