The million-dollar question
“Demand from the retail sector has been exceptionally high since the first half of 2020 and lead times for residential installations are now extending well into 2022,” says Ian Cocken, Director of Sales and Marketing, aluplast. “The big question for many, is how much longer there is to go before the home improvement bubble bursts.”
Current market conditions make it hard for even seasoned analysts to make definitive forecasts for the months ahead, but if there is one thing that everyone can agree on, it’s that the boom has so far been supercharged by several defining factors; a surplus of unspent holiday money, a shift to working from home and a fevered housing market.
Despite predictions that it would cool following the end of the Stamp Duty holiday, the property sector remains exceptionally busy, with house prices continuing to climb.
According to Halifax, the average cost of a property increased by 0.7% in August, up to £262,954, an increase of £1,789 from the previous high in May. Nationwide’s data revealed an even bigger climb, with house pricing up 2.1% in the same period, a rise of £5,000.
Compared to June 2020, prices are up nearly 10% or £23,600. Russell Galley, MD of Halifax, has said that while the impact of the stamp duty holiday has left the market, the demand for more space and increase in home working, persist.
“If you look at all the things that have pushed up demand in the last 18 months or so, logic would suggest that it’s going to be some time yet before activity in the retail sector subsides,” says Cocken.
“The money saved from foreign holidays has been a strong contributing factor so far, but while bookings for the summer of 2022 may have increased in the hope that Covid restrictions will ease, many are still cautious about committing to flights or ferries.
“As for the property market, a lack of availability is helping to keep prices buoyant, with older homeowners, typically in larger properties, particularly reluctant to move,” he continues.
“Research by Legal and General reveals the majority of over 55s value their community, friends and family, over downsizing into smaller properties. They are prepared to improve their homes however and they have the cash to do so – figures from the ONS show that property wealth of the over-50s is £3.8 trillion!”
Cocken argues that while weary fabricators and installers should expect to remain very busy until at least the middle of next year, conditions will continue to favour those who are in a position to make the most of ongoing demand for high margin, premium products, and for colour.
“aluplast has doubled its turnover, year on year, since 2019, growth that is attributable to market conditions but also because we have introduced new products and maintained consistently high levels of service, despite challenges with raw materials,” he says.
“Our customers have been particularly well positioned to take advantage of growing consumer appetite for foils. That’s thanks to our huge investment in foiling capacity and technology that has allowed us to maintain high levels of standard stock colours, including Anthracite and Agate grey.
“In many cases, our customers have won business because their installer customers have been unable to source foiled product through their usual suppliers.
“We have also enjoyed a lot of success with our flush casement and our Smart-Slide patio door,” he continues.
Available in a range of 40 finishes, including its new woodec and aludec foils, aluplast’s Flush Sash casement can be optioned with a standard or heritage deep bottom rail and, depending on finish, is suitable for both period and modern properties. It can also be manufactured with a mechanical joint for a highly authentic heritage style finish.
Smart-Slide is aluplast’s next generation patio door. Also compatible with the full range of aluplast’s foils, it presents a step change in PVC patio door design. Available with PAS24 as standard and with U values as low as 1.3W/m2k, it can also be manufactured up to 4.5m x 2.5m with just a sliding sash and a panel, positioning it as a viable alternative to some aluminium systems.
“Whether the boom ends with a bang or a gradual return to more normal activity, the market share of premium and foiled product has accelerated rapidly over the last couple of years – increased consumer awareness means that growth will continue,” says Cocken. “Ultimately, that’s good news for the industry and a very positive outlook for our growing customer base.”