Last week I wrote a post which talked about the rather spluttering start our industry seems to be having at the moment. I also included a little poll to try and gauge the general feeling of others out there. It was nothing scientific and was only a snapshot poll, but the initial results were rather telling.
More than half voted say business is poor
At the time of writing this, 44 people had voted, and of those 44 people, 17 people said business was slower than they thought it would be. Worryingly, 7 also said that business was terrible and nowhere near where it should be.
The rest who voted said that business was either the same as the same period last year or better. So obviously for some business is doing alright out there. But what this poll and associated comments that came with it show, is that the industry is firing in some places, and deadly quiet in others.
So what is going on then? Last year we thought that 2014 was the year we all turned a corner and that the spectre of struggling businesses was behind us. But I suspect that the popping of those champagne bottles may have been done a bit prematurely.
Worries and wobbles still remain
When you look at the overall state of the UK economy, there are still plenty of areas for improvement. For example, the south of the country at least on the surface looks to be stronger, more affluent and confident than up here in the north. Although things like HS2 which the Government wants to build up here are coming, it’s not going to suddenly make a northern powerhouse like George Osbourne wants. There has to be serious, long term investment in the northern half of the UK if a very serious imbalance is going to be rectified. When you look at our industry, there are places like the north east where there is very little in the way of a vibrant fenestration industry. I suspect that when hard times come along in our industry, areas like the north east are the areas that suffer the worst.
Wage growth continues to be stagnant, although the last two sets of data out via the ONS say that wages are now rising faster that inflation. But inflation is so low, those figures have to be taken with a pinch of salt. Even the weather is starting to turn against us as the snow starts to arrive this winter, and more predicted for this week.
I would say that the general feeling at the moment is caution. As an economy we’re not perfect. There are still many real problems that families are struggling to deal with. Whilst caution remains, big ticket items like new windows and doors will continue to fall down the list of home improvements.
It’s good and bad in patches it seems. A different picture than in 2014. But as we move closer to spring and those nicer longer days, I feel the industry will start to build up a head of steam towards what will hopefully be a bumper summer for all.
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