The Business Pilot Barometer

by | Apr 2, 2024 | Trade News

The Business Pilot Barometer offers a monthly analysis of the key trends defining window and door retail. It draws on real industry data collated by Business Pilot, the cloud-based business management tool developed by installers for installers.

To find out more see www.businesspilot.co.uk/barometer

Slow start to 2024, but are things changing?

Neil Cooper-Smith, Senior Analyst, Business Pilot:

Average retail sales continued their upward trajectory in 2024 – up 5.1% to 62.1 in March – dispelling fears that 2024 is going to be a complete washout. Average sales for March were also 28.3% higher than the same period last year, demonstrating that the industry is on a better footing than the start of 2023.

But there are caveats. While positive sales figures should be celebrated, we all keep one eye on leads, because they give an indication of what is to come, and at 118.4, average leads for March were 6% lower than February.

Again, this is still 11.9% higher than this time last year, but with average lead times extending to 17.8 days (up 11.25%) and average order values up 12.7% to £3,442, this could be because the volume market is slowing slightly, and higher value orders are taking up the slack.

Figures for March also took in most of the Easter weekend, so this higher average order figure could reflect homeowners’ first big purchasing decision of the year. It is also worth noting that many household finances received a boost going into the new financial year, with the energy price cap dropping £238 to £1,690 and the minimum wage rising by more than a £1/hour to £11.44/hour.

Yes, other bills are rising (including council tax), but with the housing market still subdued (according to the latest figures from the Nationwide building society), and inflation down to 3.4%, many homeowners are investing in their homes, possibly with an eye on a buoyant housing market in the summer when the cost of borrowing is expected to fall.

But there is no hiding the fact that on a quarter-by-quarter basis, 2024 got off to a slow start. Compared to Q4 2023, average sales in Q1 2024 were down 16% to 50.4, and average leads were down 24.6% to 96.6.

For retail companies going in the second quarter of 2024, it is about keeping their options open, and about having a sufficiently broad product range to meet the needs of homeowners when they come knocking. It is also about being prepared so they can meet those needs head on, rather than reacting slower than competitors.

Tools like Business Pilot are designed to help businesses plan efficiently. On a daily basis, company owners can see which product ranges are more popular, so marketing can be tailored accordingly; leads can be tracked and followed up quickly, so no opportunity is lost; and profit margins can be maintained, so jobs aren’t won that later cost the business money.

I was always told that there is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing. The same can be said for the success of a business – there is no such thing as a bad market, only inappropriate analysis.

It is no surprise that when asked what their favourite feature of Business Pilot is, most business owners say the full visibility it gives them.

For more information visit www.businesspilot.co.uk

 

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