At least once a week for the past few weeks, at least one newspaper has proudly announced that the UK was facing a record breaking Winter on the temperatures and snow front. Images of the UK blanketed in white have been commonplace in the build up to Winter.
Reports about Winter setting in early have been widespread too. Yet, as I type this, storm Barney is giving it his all as the UK is lashed with wind and rain. No snow though. And the temperatures are fairly mild. So, true to form, the UK’s press has once again failed to accurately predict a medium term weather forecast.
But that really isn’t the point. The question at hand is simple, is a cold, white Winter good for the window and door industry?
Drafts vs transport
It is well known that inclement weather, such as a storm, an arctic blast, flooding etc is perfect for exposing problems in existing windows and doors. Drafts, leaks, gaps are all easily exposed and made worse by bad weather. A very obvious wake up call for home owners and a big old nudge to perhaps get new ones installed. So what if there’s a foot of snow outside?
It only takes an inch or two of snow for this country to grind to a halt. Roads and motorways become closed, airports shut down, schools close with parents taking time off to look after them. Canada, Russia, the US and anywhere else that has a proper winter must look at us and laugh.
So although snowy weather quite easily shows up faults in existing windows and doors, it is perhaps not the best weather for the British public to don their walking boots and go visiting showrooms. Better to stay at home browsing virtual showrooms instead.
In the past, where Winters have been particularly cold and snowy, business activity has been slow for us. I remember one Winter a few years ago where there was snow on the ground for the best part of three months, with temperatures hardly getting above zero. Showroom activity during that period was seriously low. Although we did our best to keep the showroom open, the driveway cleared and the teas and coffees flowing, it just wasn’t the weather for going window shopping. Then it thawed and on came all the pent up business that had been delayed because of the poor weather.
When I think back to Winters that have been wetter and windier, they have been the more productive. When you think about it, those are far more typical conditions during a UK Winter. A bit of wind and rain isn’t enough to keep the British public from searching out their perfect new front door.
Will it snow?
Apparently at the end of this week it’s going to get cold. Cold enough for a few snow showers so they say. I’ll believe it when I see it falling out of the sky.
If you look back at the ever unreliable newspaper forecasts, they are predicting that due to a very strong El Nino event in the Pacific, the chances are that the UK will suffer a severely cold and snowy Winter. Again, I’ll believe it when I see it.
However, lets say it does happen, it could actually do some damage to our industry in the early part of 2016. This is bad news because despite the endless run of positive tweets and reports, the state of business in our sector isn’t as strong as many would have us believe. I have spoken privately with a few and it is clear that things are not as busy as they anticipated, with the end of this year heading for a disappointing close.
If we do have a prolonged and cold Winter, it is quite feasible that consumers will happily hold on to their cash reserved for spending until the weather clears and it becomes more comfortable to take to the roads. If you sell snow shovels and grit, it’s perfect. If you sell windows and doors, it certainly is not.
So, by all means lets have a white Christmas (keeping Heathrow running as I fly a couple of days after) and a picturesque New Year. Then a steady thaw that is nicely timed with the opening of the new business year!