A recent research report from MTW Research into the UK bathroom market has suggested that bathroom retailers' sales will surpass the performance of the country's economy in 2014, the report goes on to state that this is due to 'steadily returning' consumer confidence and their adoption of clear market positioning.
After gaining data and views from 90 bathroom retailers, MTW Research has been able to establish that market sales are now £20m more than they were at their lowest point of the recession, factors such as, falling unemployment and growth in the housing market have helped increase buyer confidence. Half of the those in the survey reported sales growth during 2013, while general industry credit levels are shown to have risen on last year's report, with 70% having a positive credit rating in 2013, compared with 60% in 2011.
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However, MTW did also point out that a number of retailers, distributors and manufacturers continued to experience difficulties during 2013 and had found the year challenging.
Commenting on the research MTW director Mark Waddy said: "With industry sales some 11% down on pre-recession levels, there is still some overcapacity in the market with some respondents suggesting that this could be as high as 20%. However, this scenario is abating and all the signs are increasingly positive for those bathroom suppliers who maintain a keen eye on current trends."
The MTW report also indicated that much of the upturn can also be attributed to the clever sales and marketing strategies adopted by many retailers, who by, clearly positioning themselves within the market and offering solutions, such as; advice, design and post-sales support to consumers, have been rewarded accordingly. Independent retailers are said to have been particularly active in looking at improving their service levels. The report also suggests that retailers benefitted from suppliers' stricter distribution policies, which has helped maintain brand value.
The most successful dealers, the report reveals, were those who offered ‘turnkey solutions’, including a full ‘design and fit’ service together with installation and after sales support. This has been a key factor to the resistance to online discounting with growing numbers of retailers deciding that taking this path is a road to disaster.
However, underpinning the increased market confidence is the improving housing market and lower unemployment figures. The Government’s Help to Buy scheme is said to have helped growth, allowing retailers to target the younger generation as well as more affluent 50+ audience, enjoying the extra disposable funds now that their children are leaving home.
But, the report confirmed that the wider bathroom industry continued to find the market challenging as last year came to a close.