The roaring twenties?

Neil Cooper-Smith, senior analyst, Business Pilot.

The latest Business Pilot Barometer shows that window and door sales fell by 27% in November compared to October, reversing the 4% increase seen in October on September.

November also saw a drop in new enquiries (down 17% on October) while rates of conversion also fell away by 5%.

Average lead to sale times, however, increased by 12%, suggesting retailers were still fighting their way through the backlog of demand seen in the summer and autumn.

The results nonetheless suggest that the market for new windows and doors cooled significantly during the second lockdown.

The question is: how much can this be attributed to the impact of lockdown, Covid and job losses; how much to seasonal adjustment going into Christmas; or, with vaccinations starting this month, a shift in homeowner focus away from home improvements to the planning of summer holidays?

The answer is probably a combination of all three. The drop-off before Christmas is a normal part of the window and door sales cycle, and we would expect sales to pick up again after we come back from the break, particularly as those cashing in on stamp duty relief come through the holiday and focus on improvements to their new purchases.

And while headline economic forecasts remain gloomy (official forecasts, for example, suggest the pandemic cost the UK three years’ economic growth), others point out that many household balance sheets have improved during the crisis.

The Think Tank, the Resolution Foundation, has drawn a comparison with the ‘Roaring Twenties’, when consumers emerged from the constraints imposed upon them by WW1 and Spanish Influenza with a new desire to spend.

This is an analysis shared by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which suggests that the financial scarring caused by the pandemic will be far less severe than the 2008 banking crisis.

We’d suggest that in the window and door industry, demand will hold up Q1 and Q2, but trading conditions may toughen going into the second half of the year as window and door companies find themselves facing increased competition for the consumer’s wallet.

Maximising sales in the early part of the year will be key in building cash reserves. Business Pilot can help you do that by helping you to run your business better, giving you visibility of your processes from lead generation to installation, helping you to run each element better including drag and drop installation scheduling and financial analysis against every job, so you can understand which delivers most to your bottom line.