With the five-figure granite-countertopped kitchen overhaul now an emblem of prerecession excess, home-improvement chains are seeking a new niche for themselves in more frugal times, the New York Times reports. DIY projects these days have shifted from upgrades to maintenance—consumers won't redo the bathroom but will fix the leaky faucet themselves to save the cost of a plumber.
The recession is mostly bad news for home-improvement chains—sales have dropped about 9% from a year ago at Lowe's and Home Depot—but paint sales are brisk and garden departments are thriving as more people spend their summer vacations at home in the back yard. Also popular are DIY workshops: attendance is up 30% at a Home Depot free workshop for women.
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