Exclusive: Cautious confidence as most KBB showrooms now open, survey reveals

Despite the government deadline of June 15 for the opening of non-essential shops, the large majority of independent kitchen and bathroom showrooms in England are now open for business – mostly by appointment only.

In a kbbreview survey of nearly 100 English retailers, 88% said they were open. Nearly half had opened this week (w/c June 1) and a third had opened several weeks ago after it was revealed that Wren had legitimately restarted its retail business.

Just 12% said they were still waiting for the official June 15 deadline and, in fact, nearly 10% said they are fully open for customers to walk in without appointments.

The figures differed slightly between kitchen and bathroom retailers. For those who sold only or mostly kitchens, 44% had opened after Wren and 41% opened this week. Just 3% are fully open.

In bathrooms, 41% had also opened this week, but only 18% had opened earlier. Nearly a quarter (23%) are fully open.

In the exclusive kbbreview survey retailers were also asked to rate their business confidence for the next six months out of ten – with ten being the highest. The average score was a positive 6.6 and, in fact, nearly 40% of retailers rated their confidence at eight or above.

One kitchen and bathroom retailer who opened on June 1 said he was cautious about the immediate future: “It really is too early to tell how this will go. The number of enquiries this week is pleasing, and there are some decent prospects who seem motivated to follow through.

“My main hope is that where, increasingly, customers would think nothing of getting multiple designs from multiple showrooms and play one off against another, there will be a  move to more limited numbers of appointments. This means we can more focus more on time spent with individual customers which may avoid the race to the bottom and see quality, service and longevity become more important factors once more.”

Kiran Noonan, CEO of John Lewis of Hungerford and its 13 showrooms, said: “We have seen a high level of enquiries during the lockdown and have successfully secured orders through online design consultations. Since opening for appointments only soon after Wren opened, we have seen an influx of customers keen to progress their projects over the Summer. We are pleased to see signs of a positive recovery.”

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