Retailers upbeat after positive week’s trading post-lockdown

Increased footfall, boosted orders and positive customer feedback have made KBB retailers’ first week back in their showrooms a success.

We surveyed the kbbreview100, our think tank of KBB UK retailers, to get their views and experiences after reopening their showrooms following months of having to stay closed.

Compared with footfall before Christmas, 69% of the kbbreview100 said they have been busier than average, while just over a quarter said they’d had the same amount of traffic to the showroom.

Demand is also noticeably up, as well as footfall, according to the kbbreview100. Allan Margetts, director at The Kitchen Store, which has four showrooms, said that each designer is juggling multiple serious projects. He said: “We have very strong demand across all stores, with an average of 10 serious live leads per designer. We also have 18 forward appointments. Customers are optimistic, but we are carefully watching to see whether this is a trend or a short period of built-up pressure.”

Shane Fraser, designer at Stone and Chrome in Camberley, said lots of customers seem committed to taking projects to the final stage. He said: “We’ve had many appointments and lots of walk-in clients. Lots of people have been waiting for showrooms to open to make their final choices. People are ready to spend the money.”

Clients have also been coming in to finalise their purchases at Kitchen Creations by Ability in Chester. Owner Richard Hanley said: “We have seen an uptake in initial appointments and more internet inquiries.  The clients all seem ready to purchase, and the timeline from design to client sign-up has shortened.”

Justine Bullock, co-owner of the Tap End in south Wales, said: “We have had an increase in sales of approximately 100% compared with February. We are thrilled to be open, to see clients face-to-face and be able to use our showroom for its intended purpose once again – which is as a sales tool.”

Many retailers have said that simply having the showroom open has been positive for both staff and customers. John Martin, a designer at Regal Kitchens in Essex, said that there is more excitement among clients and his team. Richard Reynolds, chairman at national brand CP Hart, said there was a sense of “relief, enthusiasm and a desire to get on with it” in his team.

Many retailers said there was a sense of relief at reopening. David Jarvis, owner of Albion Bathrooms Kitchens Electricals in Burton-on-Trent, said: “We have had a feeling of relief that the opening of the showroom wasn’t delayed by the Government, and the staff are all pleased to be back at work and not on furlough. In the first week, we have had many customers who already had quotations from us come into the showroom to finalise the quotes and place their orders, and it seems they are relieved to be getting their projects moving.

“In addition, we have also seen a substantial rise in speculative calls from customers were just ‘chomping at the bit’ to be allowed back in. The whole process has been an upbeat, uplifting experience, and we are moving forward into 2021 with a positive attitude – albeit a bit tinged by the fact that the business has to pay back a lot of borrowed finance to the Government.”

The sense of relief is also about the hope that things are getting back to normal. Ian Coghill, a director at Riddle and Coghill in Edinburgh, said: “Customers now feel more positive and being able to visit the showroom brings a sense of getting back to normal. It is, of course, helped by the fact that the week has been relatively sunny, which also helps people’s positivity.”

Martina Landed, design director at InStil Design in Oxfordshire, agreed, adding: “Generally, there is a relief that we are finally heading in the right direction and will be back to some normality later this year.”

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