Lakes Comment: Q3 2021

In Q3 we have seen sustained slow growth in our sector, but the stage is set for a bigger finish to the year.

All the indications are that consumer spending on home improvements will continue for the rest of the year and into 2022, as colder weather brings with it increased interest in indoor projects.

The value of bathroom projects is going up too. The average bathroom renovation spend was £5,000 in 2020, up a quarter on 2019, according to a consumer survey by Houzz the home improvement platform. Its research revealed that more than half of homeowners were planning renovations this year.

While we expect 2021 to finish with a flourish, not everything in the industry is positive. Research suggests that one in eight firms fear they will fail within a year as the cost of COVID compliance and surging materials prices squeezes margins, and a shortage of skilled workers is threatening to derail the industry’s recovery as customers wait months for new bathrooms to be installed.

The British Institute of Kitchen, Bedroom & Bathroom Installation (BiKBBI) is calling for a co-ordinated effort from Government and industry to plug the skills gap but there are no quick wins to fix the problem. Bringing new people and new ideas into the industry is essential to future growth, something aptly demonstrated by the increase in bathroom companies utilising digital channels to improve operations and customer satisfaction.

We have reached a turning point. The pandemic pushed us to embrace digital, and companies who did – by introducing services like online booking, electronic payments and other omnichannel options – are thriving. Even if a customer only does their initial product research online, if you aren’t online, you aren’t part of the conversation. It’s as simple as that.

Can anything spoil the bathroom industry party as we move into Q4 and 2022? Supply chain issues, rising prices, port congestion and the haulage driver shortage will continue, but overall we are cautiously optimistic.

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