Published: 13th September 2023
Inflation has dampened down an over-heated home improvement market. Mark Atkinson, Sales Director, Hurst Doors, argues doors will still deliver sales.
We need to recognise that the landscape has shifted. The things that inflated the market in the last three-years are now in the past and that has to be reflected in how we move forward.
The UK housing market has so far showed incredible resilience. Despite rising energy costs and inflation the housing market continues to perform, even if activity has slowed.
Annually average house prices are currently around 3.5% lower than they were at the same time last year but month-on-month according to figures from Nationwide, climbed in June to £262,239, up from £260,736. This is despite the aggressive half-point increase by the Bank of England in base rate to 5%.
This is something that we can and should take some comfort in, but we should also recognise that with homeowners coming to the end of fixed mortgage terms and interest rates at a 15-year high, the next 12-months will be financially tough for many.
What do inflationary pressures mean for window and door sales?
With inflation finally starting to bite there is going to be a pressure on household budgets and that will inevitably translate into tougher trading conditions for anyone involved in home improvement or who supplies into it.
That means we need to think about who we target, and how we target them more effectively and which products will still resonate with the end-user at a time when their disposable income may be being squeezed.
The importance of doors in supporting sales
We need to adjust to a new economic reality. Things are far from catastrophic, there are plenty of opportunities but home improvement companies will need to win them and to do that they need the right product and service offer from their suppliers.
Hurst enjoys a reputation as the industry’s leading supplier of PVC-U panels. Despite the shift to composites, panels retain a place within the market. They are affordable and a fit-and-forget product and we continue to invest in our ranges.
But we’ve also significantly expanded our composite door offer, launching new contemporary aluminium-style products to give our customers more flexibility to match our composite door ranges into mixed aluminium and PVC-U installations. More affordable than aluminium, it represents a growing area of opportunity for installers.
An evolving offer from its suppliers, underpinned by great quality and service, is going to assume far greater importance in the year ahead. People may not have the money in the bank to fund
whole house refurbishment, but many will still have money for single item purchases, something which we have seen already in the first half of 2023.
We know from our customers that homeowners have become far more discerning. If we expect them to part with their cash, we have to sell them something that they aspire to. Composite door design, colour choice, and smart technologies, are going to be increasingly important in winning business.
There will be sets of homeowners still buying doors in the next 12-months: those who have to – distress purchasers; and those with a vision for how they want their home to be. If we’re going to target this second group effectively, we need to offer them products which meet a growing design-requirement.
That means that our approach to sales needs to become more consultative and aspirational. We’re currently working on some highly innovative tools which we believe will support our customers in transforming the way that they sell to the end-user.