Lakes Comment: Q4 2021

Q4 rounded off the year in style, with the continuation of strong homeowner spending putting the cherry on top of a good year for bathroom product manufacturers.

The latest Renovation Nation Report by money.co.uk revealed that more than three quarters (77%) of homeowners spent money on changing or improving their properties and 9% chose to invest in their bathroom. The Report estimates that UK homeowners spent £21 billion on home renovations, DIY projects and furnishing in 2021.

While the spending figures for 2021 are down on the spectacular numbers recorded in 2020, there is still much to celebrate. The Bathroom Manufacturers Association reported record breaking sales for members, reflecting solid demand for home improvements and the determination of suppliers to deliver, even when facing numerous challenges.

Can this upward trajectory be sustained in 2022? This will depend on the resolution of a number of factors which continue to cause concern.

Shipping issues show no sign of easing, and industry forecasts suggests it could be the second half of 2022 before things get better, particularly if renewed covid outbreaks cause further disruptions. It may be 2023 before things get back to a new normal.

Rising prices were an issue throughout 2021, and although we have seen costs start to stabilise in Q4, there could be more fluctuations ahead. This could put some homeowners off starting a home improvement project, more so in the coming months as household budgets are getting squeezed thanks to increases in energy costs, inflation, higher interest rates and national insurance rises.

A shortage of skilled workers coming through apprenticeships could also spell delays or cancellations to new bathroom projects. More regulation and compliance checks means the average job length is increasing, further stretching a dwindling workforce which sees more retirements than newly qualified fitters to replace them.

As we move through Q1 2022, there is a big opportunity for merchants selling or upselling items on their green credentials as the trend for more sustainable products gathers momentum. Whether its water, energy or packaging, sustainability is a key concern and homeowners are prepared to spend more for the products that help them save, benefitting both the planet and their monthly outgoings.

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