Lakes Comment: Q4 2019

Mike Tattam, Sales & Marketing Director Lakes is BMBI’s Expert for Shower Enclosures & Showering.

Looking back, 2019 was a year on hold. The first quarter started promisingly, but the RMI replacement and improvement market for shower enclosures and bathroom products was weakened by constant negativity in parliament and the press over Brexit. Different channels and different regions were affected in different ways, but some stockists reported sales down by up to 10%. The final three months were particularly weak.

However, December’s General Election appears to have been a pivotal moment. The public and business responded with relief to the prospect of clarity and stability from a big-majority Government, and the constant carping in the media has eased.

GfK’s Consumer Confidence index rose strongly in December, by 3 points, followed by a further 2 points in January. January also saw a strong 1.9% rise in house prices, according to Nationwide. Consumer spending grew 3.9% in January, according to Barclaycard, up from a lacklustre 1% growth in December. This has yet to translate into business across all sectors, but it sets the scene for better news for the home improvement market in 2020. We expect homeowners will have the confidence to spend on their property, including investing in a new or improved bathroom.

One of the key factors driving such investments is the increasing trend to multi-generational living. Recent research quotes a 46% increase in multi-generational living in less than a decade. Older family members are moving into their children’s homes, and the number of households with 20-34-year olds living in their parental home increased from 2.6 million in 2007 to 3.4 million in 2017.

More people under one roof means the bathroom is one of the most used rooms in the house. Bathroom furniture and showering spaces therefore need to be robust, low maintenance, easy to clean, safe and adaptable to different needs. For example, the less mobile require low thresholds so they can get in and out of the shower without tripping, and grandparents may need a shower seat and grab rail so they can shower safely and comfortably. But these improvements do not need to be ugly or utilitarian. There’s a new generation of ‘multi-generational’ products that are smart and stylish, well matched to the spa-like modern bathrooms that have become so popular.

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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.

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