Kitchens & Bathroom Trends

Mike Tattam Sales & Marketing Director Lakes Showering Spaces, the BMBI Expert for Shower Enclosures & Showering, comments on trends in BMBI’s Kitchen and Bathroom statistics.

People talk loosely about changing markets, but it’s generally harder to point to evidence in industry statistics. However, if you’ve looked closely at the Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI*) statistics for Kitchens & Bathrooms you can find evidence of a changing market.

Over the last three years, there are clear signs of seasonality with Kitchens and Bathrooms tracking the total merchant market in the winter and spring, underperforming the market in the summer months and then overtaking the total market and peaking in November. Last year cold weather kept builders and installers indoors, and from November to March Kitchens and Bathrooms did much better than builders’ merchant’s sales as a whole. Then a hotter than average summer meant builders and installers could catch up on outside work. The World Cup also influenced work output over this period, with stockist showrooms reporting less foot traffic in June and July. So, yes it’s true that in the last six months of 2018, Kitchens and Bathrooms underperformed the total merchant market, but in the previous 18 months’ the sector outperformed the total market. Interestingly, with movements of plus or minus 5-10% in the Kitchens and Bathrooms index relative to the total market over the last three years, it’s likely that the net 2.8% fall in the volume of housing transactions during Q2 and Q3 2018 could also be a drag on Kitchens and Bathrooms sales.

“At the back end of 2017 the Kitchens and Bathrooms category was showing faster revenue growth than volume growth, so there was price inflation,” says Richard Frankcom Key Account Director for GfK. The BMBI report uses GfK’s Builders Merchant Point of Sale Tracking Data which analyses sales out data from over 80% of generalist builders’ merchants’ sales across Great Britain.

“During 2018, revenue growth has slowed,” Richard explains, “prices have increased at a slower rate than total builders’ merchants in Kitchen and Bathroom categories with no compensating impact on volumes, resulting in slower value growth and hitting the largest sub category bathrooms more than kitchens. Other factors may be influencing these trends to varying degrees too such as a continuing long term slide in sales of baths, growth in wet rooms, and the current political and economic uncertainty which is contributing to weaker consumer confidence, with anecdotal evidence of projects being postponed and products being downgraded.”

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Launched in 2015, the award winning monthly Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report is the only reliable measure of repair, maintenance & improvement (RMI) activity in the UK. Filling an important gap, it can be widely used in construction, and by economists, Government, national media, commentators and influencers outside the industry.