Pavestone Comment: Q3 2021

The market started to slow down in Q3, as we move past the unprecedented peaks in demand experienced in 2020 and early 2021. A combination of being able to travel and homeowners having other things to spend their savings on has pushed RMI down the priorities’ list, and sales are back to a manageable level.

The sudden drop in demand has left many suppliers and merchants with surplus stock after months of buy, buy, buy. While the temptation is to shift excess stock, it’s worth maintaining healthy levels on key lines as we expect strong demand in the Spring.

Whilst Shipping prices have finally plateaued, and UK port congestion seems to be getting better, things have certainly not been ‘fixed’. We’re only seeing an improvement as demand has dropped. Should demand rise heavily again, we can expect much of the same with haulage shortages, port congestion and many shipping lines refusing to stop at some UK ports.

Porcelain sales have been another positive in Q3. Sales have grown despite sandstone and other alternatives being available. Merchants now have much more confidence to sell porcelain and we hope this will continue in the future.

Unfortunately, we’re seeing a race to the bottom with porcelain having to compete with cheaper, lower quality products hitting the market. We’ve destocked our Indian-sourced porcelain as the shipping and haulage costs make it unviable to compete with better priced, European product.

There is a new colour trend on the horizon for Q4 and 2022: greige (grey beige). It’s a soft grey, and a warmer contemporary product. We’re seeing this hit European markets quite heavily and we expect it to have a big impact here.

Finally, in the aftermath of COP26, we expect a renewed focus on sustainability in Q4 and beyond, as the industry addresses how it can reduce its environmental impact and make a measurable difference.

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