Reality bites as half of KBB retailers report drop in enquiries

The UK economic pressures are being felt across the independent kitchen and bathroom retailer sector – according an exclusive new survey from kbbreview.

For the start of our build-up to kbb Birmingham we have surveyed over 500 independent kitchen and bathroom retailers to find out just how their business is performing and how confident they are for the future.

What do they really think about the overall market? What challenges are they dealing with? How do they rate their suppliers? And what confidence do they have for the potentially difficult times ahead?

It’s our biggest ever poll and we teamed up with experts Eureka! Research to conduct the survey at the end of last year, and these independently verified results are absolutely fascinating.

You can see all the results at our dedicated research section of our website –

The main headline is that many retailers are really feeling the effects of the broader economic headwinds with just over half (53%) reporting a drop in enquiries and footfall.

While some parts of the market are in a holding pattern, others are facing a worsening position with the average duration of the order book falling by over a month and nearly two-thirds are worried about consumer confidence. Retailers who have more of a kitchen focus appear to be slightly more exposed to these wider issues but most are already reacting to the market conditions pro-actively by upping their marketing investment.

And it appears that suppliers have steadied the ship after the turmoil of stock and delivery issues but they have some way to go before retailers think of their service as much more than ‘average’.

But it’s not a gloomy outlook by any means, nearly a quarter of retailers (24%) said their conversion rate was over 75% and nearly half of retailers (47%) said their order book hadn’t changed at all in the past year. In fact, for retailers that do an equal mix of kitchens and bathrooms, 60% said their order book was about the same.

And while there are undoubted economic pressures to cut costs where possible, a significant 59% of retailers say their staffing situation hasn’t changed in the last six to 12 months. Nearly one-in-five (19%) say they have taken on new staff and 14% say they intend to in the near future. And that’s not surprising when 82% said that reputation and recommendations is what sets them apart from their competitors.

The research was sponsored by the kbbreview 2024 Research Partner, Hettich. “As a supplier, we like to think that it’s our job to know what customers want and that’s why we got behind the kbbreview Retailer Survey 2024,” said Hettich UK managing director Simeon Gabriel. “The level of response was remarkable and gives strong validity to the findings.

“The news that a large majority of retailers are tackling a challenging market with increased marketing activity is reassuring, as is the fact that staff reduction as a measure is contemplated by fewer than one in ten.

“This is a conversation to be continued. In the meantime, you’ll no doubt draw plenty of your own conclusions from this fascinating data.”

See all the parts of our survey analysis here

PART ONE: Business health
PART TWO: The biggest challenges
PART THREE: What retailers think of suppliers
PART FOUR: Retailer view
PART FIVE: What suppliers think of retailers
PART SIX: Personal analysis
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