The market experienced a sharp decline in Q4, with a lot of stock left on the ground at the end of the year. It’s difficult to pinpoint the reasons behind the drop, but with many landscapers already fully booked for 2022, the pipeline of orders is there, we just need to wait for them to filter through.
What we do know is that 2022 is already shaping up to be a challenging year. We now have to pay multiple surcharges for every shipment we receive, and shipping prices are on the up again, as shipping companies reduce or cancel planned voyages from India to the UK to drive up competition for container space. These factors will push up the cost of sandstone, which is largely sourced from India.
Porcelain, which enjoyed a surge in popularity in 2021 as sandstone supplies were disrupted by India’s Covid crisis, is also set to increase in price. Higher energy costs are making it unviable to manufacture, so many kilns are now shutting, rather than selling it at a cost its customers aren’t willing to pay. This means there won’t be enough capacity to meet European demand and prices will go up as a result.
With both the cost of natural stone and porcelain set to rise, it is even more important for merchants to hang on to the stock they have and not be tempted to sell it cheap to run down supplies.
Another cautionary tale for 2022 is the rise (and downfall) of the ‘furlough landscaper’. While on furlough, a lot of people changed jobs to become landscapers as it was a very profitable sector. With the best landscapers fully booked, untrained and inexperienced landscapers will be picking up a lot of jobs. The result? A lot of badly laid paving and unhappy customers.
We are encouraging homeowners to use recommended tradespeople and to do their research before agreeing anything. We’ve also invested in a suite of videos to show landscapers how to – and how not to – lay our products for best results.
On a more positive note, the greige (grey beige) colour trend is really starting to pick up pace, and it’s now made its way into interior paint choices. It’s going to be big.