We’ve come to the end of the first month of the year already. Generally January can feel like a month that drags. Christmas is gone, and most are sad about that. The weather is still garbage. there are bills to pay and even the most miserable day of the year is in January. That being said, the sounds coming out of various parts of the industry these past few weeks signal a start stronger than we may have seen for quite a while.

Unfortunately, our industry does not publish any sort of monthly stats to measure performance, so I am basing my thoughts on this based around my conversations with others and what I have seen being said in the public domain. But, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence out there to suggest that our industry has very much hit the ground running during 2017.

A positive beginning for the glazing industry?

January in our industry can be a funny month. Very much like December, quite often home owners put new windows and doors to the bottom of their to-do list. Preferring instead to ay down bills built up over Christmas and with a temptation to put off home improvements until the Spring. Personally I didn’t find that to be the case last December, and I have found that January was busier than normal too. Sales and leads at our place were very healthy, which has led to a lead time with has forced us to look for more installation teams to help reduce the workload.

During the course of January i spoke to a number of our suppliers as well as other fabricators and installers around the UK, and all reported pretty much the same thing. A busier than normal December with January not letting up, in fact getting busier in most cases. As I said before, there are no official stats to draw upon, but there does seem to be a really strong positive vibe in the industry at the moment, despite Brexit, lower Sterling and Donald Trump.

These initial soundings from our industry are an important indication as to the confidence of the sector at the start of the year. A Christmas break combined with a number of global and domestic hurdles to tackle could quite easily have created an apathetic mood in the window and door industry. We’re classed as a big ticket item sector and it’s well known that shocks to a system are not good for consumer confidence and consumer spending. However, it appears Brexit, rising inflation, Sterling and trump have yet to have any major impacts on the buying public. At least not yet.

We should take this positive start with a pinch of salt though. There are still a number of domestic and global risks that could put an early spanner in the works. For now though, we should all be making the most of a healthy and confident general public and push the positive message for new windows and doors as much as we can.

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Why such a strong start?

I think a number of factors can be taken into account when trying to decipher why we seem to have had such a strong start to this year. First of all, the impending doom predicted from the Brexit vote continues to be defied. As each quarter passes with better than expected GDP and solid consumer confidence, the public will continue to be happy to spend. Confidence breeds confidence as they say, so as long as it stays this way, we should be good.

Secondly, there may also be a hint of people spending now before they believe prices will go up on all sorts of items, including windows and doors. Although prices for installers and fabricators has indeed gone up in recent months, thanks to the fall in the value of Sterling, it’s not clear whether those increases have been passed on to the home owner in any sort of meaningful fashion.

Third, I think there is a growing “improve, don’t move” phase growing again in the economy. It’s not the most vibrant housing market right now, and from what I read, there are less house sales going through at the moment than for a while. There is likely to be a percentage of those people deciding to spend the money they were going to use to move on new windows, doors or a brand new glazed extension. If so, great news for us!

Poll: what are your thoughts?

Time for my first proper poll of the year! This one has been designed for fabricators and installers, and it’s simple. Before you go ahead and get back to your working day, choose one of the five responses which you think best describes your January. As I said before, there are no official figures in our industry to gauge sentiment, so if we can get enough votes on here, at least over 100, then perhaps we might get a clearer view as to the performance of our industry and the general sentiment so far. Please take a a second to vote before you go, and get your colleagues to have a gander too if they get a spare minute!

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