It seems to me that 2015 in the window and door industry is spluttering to an end. It’s not been the rip roaring year everyone thought it was going to be. Some will shout it loud and proud on social media about how busy they are or have been, but given my conversations with some suppliers and manufacturers, they’re more likely the exception rather than the rule.

I don’t think it’s been a terrible year. Certainly not like those during the recession years. But it’s not been the barnstormer we all hoped it would be. It just feels like it never really got going on an industry-wide level.

At this time of year, we all get a bit reflective, looking back at the year just gone, and the one coming up. During the remaining days and weeks of 2015, I’ll be looking back at the past 12 months, as well as looking forward to the new year creeping up on us. Right now, I want to take a more generic look at trading conditions next year, and get your thoughts.

Another challenging year ahead

This post isn’t designed to sound negative. Yet, when you take a look at the general health of the UK and global economy, the picture is growing more and more uncertain as each quarter passes.

Predicted GDP growth has been constantly revised down by the UK government as well as a number of independent and respected fiscal bodies. The global economy is slowing down. Commodities and the industries associated with them, such as steel, oil and gas are struggling with record low prices and falling demand. All of this has an effect on our economy and our industry.

Add to that the latest Palmer Market Research report of a market slowing down over the next five years, and things don’t look as rosy as they do just 12 months ago.

Next year is going to be a challenging year. There will be business to be won. Homes are going to (hopefully) be built, which should provide a good opportunity for trade outfits to supply these new homes with windows and doors. Home owners aren’t going to freely open their wallets though.

I feel like there is still a sense of unease hanging over our heads at the moment. What with the world as tumultuous as it is right now, and people still not feeling as flush in the wallet as they would like, the willingness to spend the big bucks on big ticket items like new windows and doors may not be that strong.

It is therefore going to become a battle between the companies proactive enough to get up and fight for that new business. But it may not be a fight won with offers and discounts. More a battle fought with product innovations, colour, technology and well rounded design. Times have changed. Home owners are well informed, both on product and what to avoid during the sales process. The serious buyers will be on the look out for high product quality, a range of choice, a design process rather than a sales process.

Split opinions on this year

A little while ago, I ran a poll to try and see what the industry thought of this year’s performance compared to 2014. These were the results once the poll closed:

Less than half said this year was better than 2014. A fifth said it was actually worse, a smaller percentage said it was around the same and the remainder said that it could swing one way or the other by the end of the year. I may run that poll again right at the end of 2015 to see what changes are made to the first set of results.

Lets be clear though, that is no resounding thumbs up from those who voted. It’s a very split opinion, where no single answer got a 50.1%+ majority of the answers.

So, time to see what people think 2016 will bring. Please take a second to vote on the poll below and help shape predictions as to the fortunes of the window and door sector in the coming year:

The industry will be bullish in public and on social media. But privately, we all know that it’s not been easy going this year, and it probably won’t be next year either. Companies went to the wall this year, some very established and well known. Trading conditions are tough, and the industry will have to be ultra-competitive and proactive if it is to continue to have any sort of meaningful growth in the coming few years.

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