Who else is looking forward to some time off at the end of the year and Christmas? I know I am. I’m sure many of us are. This year has been one to put behind us as quickly as possible.

As an industry, we have swung from crisis to crisis. From lockdown and wondering if any part of any sector would survive, to the exact opposite problem where we have had too much business to cope with and the supply chain creaking quite seriously in some places.

But, within the stress and headaches of 2020 we must look for silver linings and the areas of business that could boom into 2021 due to the circumstances we are operating through.

One area that stands out to me quite obviously is the indoor/outdoor living sector.

Loving the outdoors

During lockdown we all spent a lot of time at home. During that time at home, we spent a lot of time in our gardens and green spaces. Way more than we usually would because of being unable to live our normal lives. But we adapted and we learned to love our gardens (if we didn’t do so already) and took advantage of what was a pretty good summer for us all.

For example, we had more BBQs at our house than the last three years combined, maybe more. I got into gardening. I put a hefty swingset and slide up for my little lad to have fun with. My doors to the garden were constantly open thanks to the good weather. Able to jump in and out having a beer and getting some work done. Enjoying some time with my better half with a glass of something in the warm evenings. It felt very foreign. Like being on holiday for ten weeks. I loved it. Of course, we were very lucky with the good summer we had. If it had turned out to be a typical British summer then perhaps I wouldn’t have been so impressed.

The point here is the above was repeated by millions of others up and down the country. In and out of the garden every day, making the most of the good weather, working from home in relative comfort. Many of us will look at our gardens and yards in a different light after this year and think about investing in them to make them even better spaces to use in future years. I am doing that myself, with my garden being landscaped in February ready for the spring and summer of next year.

From a fenestration point of view, this should present us with a golden opportunity for higher sales of bi-folding doors and sliding patio doors. I have talked in previous posts about how our already high sales of bi-folds has baffled me as we don’t have typically good weather to warrant such solid sales of the product. But after this year of being at home and treated to a better-than-average summer I think things are only going to north of what we already sell.

Bi-folds and sliding doors give homeowners that seamless passage between inside and out, connecting both spaces together. There will have been many this year perhaps looking at their old French doors or single doors and wishing they were bigger and wider, allowing easier and grander access to the spaces they have been using much more during 2020.

It appears that this is the case. The below is a Google Trends search using “bifold doors” going back to January 1st 2019 up to today. I went back to 2019 to try and get a recent comparison for search traffic to this year to see how meaningful any change is. Take a look:

You can see a clear hike upwards after March which was when the first lockdown started, and the level of interest has remained higher than 2019 levels since. This peak interest has been borne out of a situation we have been forced to live with. But as with most things, where there are problems there are also solutions.

Going into 2021 I would be looking at ramping up marketing and advertising of all fenestration products that can be seen in the indoor/outdoor marketplace. That would include sliding patio doors, bi-folds, oversized windows, glass roof extensions, pergolas and verandahs. Anything that gives the homeowner that added sense of space and quality whilst bridging the gap between the outside and the inside.

Personally, I can see a high demand for these sorts of products for the most part of 2021. With any vaccination programme likely to take most of next year, we’re going to be living with restrictions for a large portion of next year, and perhaps rolling lockdowns as and when cases become extreme again as they have during this second wave. So, that will mean more time spent at home once again, and hopefully with another good summer. 2021 could be a really good year for indoor/outdoor products and we have to make the most of the opportunity.

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