Crunch time for retail?
By Neil Cooper-Smith, senior analyst at Business Pilot.
Covid may still be with us but the world we now occupy today is a very different one to that of 12 months ago.
In April 2020, things felt apocalyptic. We were in our first national lockdown, factories had shut their gates and, like the rest of retail, installers were forced to close their showrooms.
Fast forward to April 2021 and things look and feel very different. The UK economy is forecast to see its greatest growth since the post-war period, and the construction sector is seeing an unprecedented boom.
This is reflected in the figures we’re seeing in this month’s barometer. Average sales were up 9% in April on March, but a staggering 55% on the same time in 2020.
New leads for April 2021 held firm on figures for March, while they were 273% higher than April 2020. Conversions also held steady last month, up 3% on March.
This reflects the wider bounce in the UK economy which shows that it is back to where it was pre-Covid and with forecast growth in GDP of 7%, seeing its strongest gains since 1945.
Increased consumer confidence, plus demand generated by the stamp duty holiday, meant that house prices also grew at their fast rate for 17 years last month, up 2.1% in April.
According to mortgage lender Nationwide, this represented the biggest monthly rise since February 2004, and 7.1% higher than in April 2020.
There are, however, challenges on the horizon. The price increases trickling – or perhaps more accurately, cascading – through the supply chain, make cashflow forecasting and business management critical.
This pales into insignificance in the face of significant disruption to component supply from PVCU resins, to laminates and glass, to hardware and steel.
With systems and float glass manufacturers warning of supply chain challenges, it is only a matter of time before fabricators do the same.
This makes effective lead management, increased forward visibility of order books, and effective job scheduling increasingly important for installers; things that Business Pilot can, and is, helping installers to do nationwide.
Having the right processes in place in your business and the visibility of where leads or jobs are in your sales pipeline or operational schedule – plus financial reporting – is going to be very important in the coming months as installers juggle continuing high levels of demand and unprecedented pressure on their supply chains.