Retailers confident despite January demand drop

Leading KBB retailers are confident about 2021 even though January has seen a fall-off in demand thanks to the national lockdown.

Speaking on the latest episode of the award winning kbbreview Podcast, retailers said that they believe demand will return to unprecedented levels once lockdown restrictions are eased.

Andy Gilmore is from Fineline Interiors with showrooms in Oldham and Warrington. He said so far 2021 shas been ‘mixed’ and demand has fallen off compared with the autumn peak.

“There are a lot of people being much more cautious,” he said. “They know that the period we’re in these restrictions could be extended so they’re perhaps taking a little bit more time with it and being more hesitant than last time.”

However, Gilmore said his confidence for the rest of 2021 is high. “I think there’ll definitely be pent-up business out there. A lot of what we do is linked to people having building work done and they’re out there still planning it. It might not come back as quickly as it did last time but I still think that we’ll come out of this year in a decent place.

“I think it’s easy to be doom and gloom but it will be what it will be. We’ve just got to make the most of it and make sure we’re a good position to take advantage of whatever is there.”

Luke Wedgbury from Coalville Kitchens in Leicestershire also confirmed that demand had fallen.

“The January push isn’t as strong as it’s historically been and I think that lines up totally with this new lockdown,” he said. “We have had lots of enquiries but the clients haven’t been as confident as they would traditionally have been, they’re just touching base. So has it been the start we would’ve hoped for? No.”

But, again, confidence levels are still very high.

“I think 2021 is going to be great year,” Wedgbury said. “It might not look like it now but we learnt a lot during 2020 and there were a lot of positives that came from it and I think we can bring them into 2021. The work is there, people are still keen to have home improvements done.”

Others are slightly more restrained – speaking to the podcast, Ripples managing director Paul Crow described January as “a kick in the stomach”.

“January is usually the busiest month of the year for us in terms of sales volume, “ Crow said. “Everybody is buying bathrooms, but now it’s ultimately an unsecure month for us and we don’t know what to expect. It’s stalled us to a point where we’re now waiting to see when we can attack the rest of the year, whenever that starts.”

However, Crow is still cautiously confident about the rest of the year.

“We still feel positive but I wouldn’t want to pretend that no one should worry and everything is ok because people are concerned. But I think it’s in our hands, the consumer will be there when we come out of it and we’ll be in a good position to take on that consumer. This storm has an ending and I do feel that we’ll be in a good shape and ready to go when it does.”

You can listen to the latest episode of The kbbreview Podcast using the player below or by searching ‘kbbreview’ in your podcast app of choice. There you can also see all the previous episodes, subscribe to get the latest ones and rate and review us.

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