At the end of August I wrote about how the silly season was about to begin. You can click here to catch up with that post. Well, silly season is about to start drawing to a close as we reach the latter part of November and home owners start preparing home and wallet for Christmas. So you would think that business activity would begin to wind down right about now.
It seems that’s not the case. Anecdotally, those I have spoken to in the past few days are reporting business activity just as strong as any other part of the year, with the end of the year shaping up to be really strong.
I can back this up with what we are seeing at our place. This time last year there was the usual noticeable drop off in activity as people in our local area switched focus. This year has been very different.
Busier than normal
Of course anecdotal evidence from installers and fabricators I have spoken to over the past few days doesn’t give a whole industry picture, but it does give us a small indicator as to the health and strength of the sector.
Those who I have spoken to have all said that business remains really strong, leading to a very positive end to this year and that they’ll be hitting the ground running at the start of 2017.
At our place, we have remained unusually strong given that we’re now approaching the last full week of November. This time last year, and in previous years, we see a marked drop in leads and sales, as home owners put off their new window and door purchases until the New Year. Generally, this time of year brings quite a few orders of front entrance doors, a few windows etc. Small items that are quick to sell, fabricate and install. Whilst we have sold a ton of doors during silly season, we’ve also signed up a significant number off full house replacements. This strong mix of small and large contracts has ensured a solid end to the year and a positive start to next year.
But it’s the strength at such a late stage in the year that has surprised me and others. To my mind, I cannot remember being this busy late on into the year in my 11 years in working for our family run business. Again, this can’t be classed as an indicator for the whole industry, but our sales figures for the year, and the conversations I’ve had over the past few days, demonstrate some very late strength in the sector.
Industry showing resilience
When you think about it, 2016 has been littered with risks that could have derailed our sector and the UK economy.
We had Brexit and the EU Referendum in June. Initial market reactions were sharp, although they recovered. Sterling has fallen, but has had little effect so far. The US Election threatened to spook markets but turned out to be more a storm in a tea cup. 2016 GDP has been revised up during the year. House prices remain strong UK-wide and UK stock markets have performed well.
All in all, our industry has managed to navigate a whole host of problems that had the potential to throw it off course. That fact that it hasn’t demonstrates the in-built resilience our sector has crafted since the Great Recession at the end of the last decade.
That resilience and strength comes from a depth of products and revenue streams that we weren’t always blessed with. Turn your attentions to pre-2008 crisis. Can you remember having the breadth and choice of products we do now? We didn’t. It was the recession that gave us a kick up the backside and diversify so we could move on and withstand the crisis. What we’re seeing now is that diversification and R&D paying off. It’s not smooth sailing out there, but with 2016 going to go down as generally a good year for our sector, you wouldn’t have known.
As it stands, 2017 looks set to be another good year, at least the start of it anyway. Question is, how much steam does this business year have left?
To get weekly updates from DGB sent to your inbox, enter your email address in the space below to subscribe: