Has there ever been a month like the one that has just passed? Probably not for a long time. Of course the single most dominant topic throughout June was the EU Referendum and the UK’s momentous decision to leave the European Union after just over four decades of membership.
The opinion polls got it wrong. The experts got it wrong. Many politicians got it wrong. Many businesses got it wrong too. It has divided a nation. It has split family and friends. It has created an endless list of questions, with some posing serious consequences for the future of the UK and the EU too.
So whilst we all continue to digest perhaps the most important change in direction for the country since the second World War, lets take a brief look back at June in fenestration and see where we might be headed for the rest of the year.
I don’t think there was much of a negative effect on the window and door industry in terms of sales until the middle of June. Up until then I got the feeling that everything was firmly business as usual. Even up to a week before when opinion polls were showing the Remain camp ahead by a few percentage points.
But then I began to talk to a couple of well placed sources who explained to me that in the run up to the vote sales had gone pretty soft as home owners looked to pause their purchases to see what the outcome of the referendum was going to be.
Then, as we know, the UK voted to leave. It was a shock for some. But on the evening of the vote, as I watched BBC and Sky News coverage, I got the sense that just as with last year’s General Election, the opinion polls weren’t judging it right. I felt like they had quite grasped the strength of the Leave vote in some areas. And in the end, it was proved to be right.
Since then, I have seen sporadic reports of business activity falling flat. But I suspect that may be in areas that voted to Remain, but lost out. To try to gauge the feeling of the industry right now, I am running a poll asking how the industry’s businesses have performed since the result. You can see the post and the poll here, or you can take part in it via the pop-up poll you should see on your screen.
Once the poll gets to around 400-500 votes I will close it and analyze the results more closely. But as of now, it’s looking like a fairly mixed bag so far.
I don’t often review the “mood” of the industry in these monthly reviews, but I think it is pertinent to the overall conversation at this time.
Since the result was announced, I have seen our industry split into two distinctive camps. One that has become very pessimistic and negative about the outlook for the UK economy, our industry and life in this country in general. The other half has hardened up, determined to make the most of the situation that is present and to seek out new opportunities among the uncertainty.
It hasn’t help matters that since the result the Labour Party has done it’s best to tear itself apart, and the Tories have created somewhat of a power vacuum when David Cameron announced he was resigning. There’s now a leadership contest which needs to be decided sooner rather than later so we can resume some sort of normality which should provide some boost to business.
Personally, I believe now is not the time to start digging our own graves. Yes things may be challenging in the short term. It seems inevitable that we may endure a short recession. But I have seen plenty of long term research which points to strong, long term growth once the dust has settled and the UK has left the EU proper. We can choose to moan about it, fight among ourselves, or band together and discover new opportunities.
On the blog front this was easily the most challenging month of the year. As you can see from the infographic below, DGB had a dip across all three recognised traffic measures, the first time in a long time. Although year on year DGB is still growing.
There were a number of factors which worked against me throughout June. I was on vacation for the the first week of June, with limited pre-written content and limited social media promotion. I get a lot of traffic from regular content and constant social media promotion, so when I am away this really comes to bite me. Things weren’t helped further on that front as our flight was cancelled on the day we were due to fly home, which meant another day and night on holiday, which was nice of course, but in effect knocked me back another two days from a content and social media promotion perspective.
Then there is the usual summer dip in traffic all blogs get. It was pretty sharp in June, although already in the first week of July I am seeing some traffic coming right back.
Finally, the EU Referendum really did eat away at traffic during and after the vote. As people were glued to screens, radios, tablets and smartphones, suddenly a window and door blog was understandably down the list of priorities. However, now that the dust is settling on all of that I am seeing some strength in traffic return. And if I can end the year up across all three major traffic measures I will be happy.
Professional excuse making or what!