Trending Narrative: Hibernesting™

We’ve coined a new word for Fall 2020: Hibernesting™.

Hibernesting is what happens when you combine a global pandemic with cold, dark days. When we have to spend more and more time physically inside our homes, and we want to make them exactly as we want them: fixing flaws, repairing brokenness, and making them fresh and homey.

Americans have been busy working on their homes in the last few months, and we expect this trend to continue into the Fall and beyond.

Home improvement projects skyrocketed throughout the summer, as COVID reduced vacation and entertainment options, freeing both time and money for repair and renovation projects. It’s harder to overlook a room that needs repainting or a garden that needs reworking when it’s staring you in the face day after day.

Home projects are also something to do, something concrete with a clear beginning and a positive outcome. With so much volatility in our society right now, so much that is out of our control, it’s no wonder that Americans are embracing hibernesting.

How do we know this is a trend? We look at the data.

In the second quarter of this year, each of the three major national hardware chains saw massive increases in same-store sales, year over year.

  • In third place is Home Depot. The home improvement giant’s sales were up 23% from 2019, the biggest rise in at least two decades, and it reported its highest-ever profit-sharing payout to its hourly employees.
  • Lowe’s, in second place, saw its same-store sales improve 30% over Q2 2019.
  • And Ace Hardware comes in the winner, with a 35% gain.

Of note, Home Depot reported that its growth was driven largely by sales increases in paint, tools, and hardware, pointing toward a surge in renovation and DIY home projects.

Target’s revenues for Q2 were also higher than usual, up 25% year over year. The retailer’s executives noted a shift in consumer spending, away from essentials like food — huge at the beginning of the pandemic — and toward big-ticket items: furniture, video games, home décor, kitchenware. Items you need to stay comfortable, fed, and entertained at home.

But this trend isn’t simply for DIY consumer projects.

Marisa Gora, owner and founder of Kemora Landscapes in Chicago, remembers being worried in March, because people who would normally be planning their Spring and Summer work were feeling germ-shy, and for three weeks, her usual busy season was dead in the water. Then, as the first panic lifted, her company was suddenly inundated with requests and busier than ever. It went from a bleak outlook to a banner year.

Her experience isn’t unique.

  • New home sales in July were up 36%, reaching the highest level since 2006.
  • Housing construction — as in, starting construction from the ground up — was up 23% in the same timeframe.

Now, as the season begins to turn, outdoor heating lamps are quickly becoming the next hard-to-find item. Wayfair reports that searches for patio heaters are up more than 70% compared to this time in previous years. Amazon is reporting similar numbers, and Overstock.com said its outdoor furniture sales (including heat lamps) jumped 225% from this time last year.

Whether they’re hiring professionals or doing it themselves, Americans are upgrading their home environments at an astonishing rate. Anecdotally, an informal survey of our own personal networks revealed many home improvement projects being started in August – deck repairs and painting, light fixture installations, multiple bathroom remodels, and several full kitchen renovations.

More than ever, we need our personal spaces to be livable and workable. They are our offices, schools, restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters. They are our sanctuary in a world that seems increasingly chaotic.

Because of this, we expect the hibernesting trend to continue well into the Fall.

We may even do a little hibernesting ourselves.


Companies and non-profits can leverage trending narratives to capture the attention and the imagination of their customers and supporters. Is your organization successfully tapping into these opportunities? A Narrative Audit can identify gaps in your brand story and align it with what your target audience needs and wants.

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