Bathrooms buoyant despite Brexit ‘blip’, says analyst

The UK bathroom market has remained resilient in 2016 with consumer spending staying strong, despite a ‘Brexit blip’ in the summer months, according to new research.

The latest report from MTW Research has highlighted a positive picture for the bathroom market, with forward ordering of currencies and clear strategic planning offsetting the impact of the weakening pound for most suppliers.

The report also revealed that average bathroom prices are experiencing an uplift, driven by healthy demand in the higher-value bathroom sector as well as the low value of the pound across low-to-mid price points.

Total bathroom market sales have increased by more than £230 million in the past six years, according to MTW, which have been boosted by rising average spend on bathroom renovations. It has also been supported by housing transactions increasing around 15% per year.

MTW’s director Mark Waddy said: “Growth in the number of en suites, cloakrooms, WCs under stairs and smaller family bathrooms represents an ongoing stimulus for bathroom suppliers, with UK consumers renovating some 830,000 bathrooms in 2016.”

Throughout 2016, wall-hung vanity units and sanitaryware, digital showers and IoT (Internet of Things) integration have been on-trend and are providing sales growth in the bathroom market.

While there has been some price erosion in this channel, MTW has suggested that rising personal incomes and consumer preferences for higher-value products are offsetting the ‘e-commerce threat’ to some extent. This in turn, is providing growth opportunities for specialist bathroom retailers and manufacturers.

“Bathroom product sales are set to increase by some £170 million in the next four years, despite some sectors experiencing price erosion, indicating a positive future for bathroom suppliers who have clear market positions,” continued Waddy. “Technological and aesthetic product development will support sales growth though the recent CMA ruling on internet distribution policies will prompt suppliers to closely examine their distribution strategies and implement more rigorous controls in terms of brand protection.”

By 2020, MTW has forecast that specialist bathroom retailers will retain market share, with annual growth averaging at three to four per cent. DIY multiples sales are set to increase two to three per cent, while internet retailers continue to exhibit double-digit annual growth rates.

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