Paul Roughan, Trade Merchants Sales Director Dulux Trade is BMBI’s Expert for Paint.
At the peak of the Covid-19 lockdown the trade market almost completely shut down, while the consumer market boomed. People at home were carrying out home improvement jobs and a number of retailers remained open. In May the lockdown measures started to ease, and the trade market began to recover and transition to new ways of working.
The CPA forecasted a drop of 21% in total construction output at the end of 2020 compared with 2019, the sharpest fall ever. However, builders’ merchant year-on-year sales by value recovered to -40% in May 2020, a large improvement on -76% in April 2020.
This trend continued, and trade paint market volume increased sharply +2% in June compared with June 2019. Pre Covid-19, 2% would be considered modest. In Covid-19 times it is an encouraging sign that the trade market is showing a V-shaped recovery; a trend predicted for many sectors.
Early in lockdown the government advised that traders should only go into homes for emergency repairs. With these guidelines, and health concerns when working in people’s houses, it was unsurprising that survey data indicated growth in decorators working on exterior jobs, allowing them to manage social distancing safely. The total paint market has seen unprecedented demand over the past few months with masonry, woodcare and other exterior products as the main driving force. Manufacturers across the board have struggled to keep up with this unprecedented level of demand. It’s likely that June’s recovery could have been stronger if supply issues had not limited the growth.
As with many sectors, trying to predict what will happen in the paint market is very challenging. While the signs of recovery in the trade market are positive, who knows what the future will bring and how the Covid crisis, lockdown measures and economic uncertainty play out? As others, we are focused on how we can support our customers in the here and now and on planning for the future, and how best to collaboratively navigate these uncertain times.