Commenting on the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and looking forward through 2021 and beyond, Bill Miller, managing director of the Kitchen Bathroom Buying Group, sees continuing uncertainty but is confident retailers will rise to meet the challenges
With so much uncertainty, it is almost impossible to say what the next 12 to 24 months may bring in the KBB industry. Vaccines will help us return to normality and hopefully give those consumers who are concerned about leaving home the ability to go shopping once more.
That said, now is the time to be brave and to invest in your business. Whether it is in marketing, such as a new updated website, or using a wider range of social media platforms. Do not neglect your showroom – any new displays should include the latest smart appliances and lighting systems as well as the latest door finishes and colours. Customers are going to want to pamper and treat themselves after such a challenging period, does your showroom offer products that can meet this new demand?
The past 10 months have clearly shown that customers have an appetite to invest in their home and I do not see this changing. And when retailers have been able to open, they have been busy. I would anticipate demand for new kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms remaining high throughout 2021 and into 2022, but will there be the stock to meet this demand?
It will probably take until the summer for most of the UK population to receive the vaccine. Until then, we are going to continue to face ongoing restrictions, both regionally and possibly nationally. We also have the spectre of rising unemployment and increased taxation to contend with, plus of course Brexit. So unfortunately, uncertainty is going to continue.
Despite all of these huge issues, the independent sector has, time and time again, shown its resilience, and I am totally confident that it will rise to meet the challenges again.
In kitchens, I see a continuing trend towards sales of shaker style, wood grain, painted finishes. Timber will make a return as customers seek a softer, more homely feel to their kitchen. Maybe 2021 will start to see the decline in popularity of the ubiquitous kitchen ‘island’ design.
As for Brexit, if there is any disruption, hopefully it will be short-lived
• For more comment and anlysis on what’s in store for the KBB market in 2021, see our Focus feature in the January issue