Retailers fear latest lockdown will impact future orders

Retailers have told kbbreview they are worried about the impact the latest lockdown restrictions will have on business over the next three or four months.

Reports from showrooms on the run-up to Christmas revealed that they were booked up until March, but with the latest lockdown set to continue until at least February 15, retailers are concerned about fulfilling these commitments and how a break in workflow could impact future orders.

Victoria Anderson at Elliotts Living Spaces in Lymington admitted that this latest lockdown has put a ‘downer’ on the start of the year, as the Elliotts team were very optimistic. However, Anderson has a clear strategy to make sure that this lockdown will not affect Q2.

She said: “We have deliveries booked into March, but the concern with five- to seven-week lockdown is that new leads will dry up, which will affect invoiced sales figures in Q2. We are being proactive and following up on all outstanding quotations, and contacting builders and developers to see if they have any projects we can work on. Fingers crossed we are not hit as hard as we were in April and May as we are still able to trade.”

Ian Coghill, director of Riddle and Coghill in Edinburgh, says that this lockdown will create a gap in their workflow. He said: “Lockdown will be an issue, as there will likely be a reduction in sales due to the inability of clients to actually see real products to choose the finishes they want.

“Most of our clients are very particular, and there is only so much you can do via technology. That being the case, the natural flow of sales and install be no longer be in sync, which may lead to a lack of work for the tradespeople in three, four or five months’ time.  Given we are already at 10- to 12-week delivery turnaround, those that are booked up until March will be looking to fill the fitters’ time very soon and it looks like we are in for a couple of months of lockdown in my opinion at least.”

MBK Design Studio’s Stewart Woodruff in Maidstone believes that there may be a shortage of work in the coming months as customers are currently not able to come into the showroom.

He said: “It will affect my business, as we are unable to finalise any new business until we can complete a full survey, and the clients need to visit the showroom to touch and feel. The last proper lockdown meant we lost three months of turnover, and the works were carried forward until we reopened. This new lockdown will prevent us from signing up new work, although we have existing contracts being completed. So when we come out of lockdown, we will potentially be without any booked work.”

Alan Margetts of the The Kitchen Store, which has showrooms in London, Horsham and Brighton and a contracts centre in Worthing, shares the same concerns and said: “We too are booked to March. However, our big concern is that the New Year is an important time to replenish the order book. We can easily take one third of annual sales in January alone. As of this moment, we don’t know whether: that will happen as normal (unlikely), how much of normal demand will be suppressed (likely) and whether pent-up demand in March and April will make up for lost ground (possibility). As always, it is tough to plan. The Government support yesterday was welcome, but more will be needed (business rate relief) to support otherwise viable businesses.”

Jane Ive of the Bathroom Design Studio in Harrogate understands that there might be a lag on not just orders, but the supply chain. She said: “Lockdown will have a time-lag effect on sales uptake later in the year. I found that coming out of the last lockdown there was a need to be much more reactionary to customers who were not fully on realistic timescales.  This, partnered with an increasingly limited supply chain, has resulted in a great deal of stress on all parts to keep projects moving.

“I have had a few customers left without showering facilities over Christmas due to last-minute notifications of out-of-stock items.”

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