We came across a great survey completed by Contractor Magazine that gives wonderful insight on professional tool users recent purchasing habits. We know you will find this information both intriguing and helpful for your own use! It seems that contractors are making more tool purchases at major home centers lately. In addition, they are doing much more work (72%) in service, repair and retrofit markets, or mainly aftermarket projects.

The major home centers have gained a lot of steam in tool sales, overtaking plumbing wholesalers and closing in on the leader, industrial supply houses. Another interesting statistic for all of 2009 was that Internet sales were down from the previous year. This survey speculates it might be because contractors like to handle a tool before they see it. We feel this is just a temporary blip, as Internet sales will continue to play a major factor in the future. Prices on the Internet are way to competitive. When the economy picks up, Internet sales should explode. Contractors that do internet buying are doing it for bulk purchases and they already know their brands!

The major thrust in the increase of tool sales at home centers came from small contractors, (those employing 1 to 4 workers). The larger contractors, (those employing 50 workers or more), still did most of their purchasing from industrial supply houses. Plumbing wholesalers numbers fell across the board. As stated above, all of the increases are coming in the aftermarket business, whereas new construction is still soft. Many or most of the contractors surveyed were working in plumbing, hydroponic heating, warm air heating, air conditioning, radiant floor heating, and bath and kitchen remodeling. Plumbing was the number one type of work, and interestingly, almost 25% of those surveyed presented themselves as “green” contractors.

As far as tool use went, the number one used corded tool was the reciprocating saw, and then came a variety of hammer drills. Next was circular saws, power drills, and demolition hammers. The list continued down the line with rotary hammers, drill drivers, pipe threading machines, drain cleaning machines and floor drivers. When looking at cordless power tools, the most used by contractors was drill drivers, then power drills, followed by reciprocating saws, circular saws, hammer drills, and last, rotary hammers.

The final interesting fact we read from the survey was that in 2009, 83% of the contractors were doing work in the residential market. Almost 75% said they did work in the commercial market, but only 21% were doing work in the institutional market.