The day the entire country has been waiting for. The day where the Prime Minister would finally reveal the plan for England to leave lockdown, hopefully forever. It was cautious, it was slow, but it was hopeful and gave the country some dates (with caveats) where plans could finally be made to see friends and family.

For fenestration, it gave us a date to plan to reopen showrooms. Here is what was announced and how it matters to our sector.

The four steps to freedom

If you want to read the full 68-page document published today by the Government click here. If not, here are some infographics kindly provided by the Government for our perusal:

For fenestration, our moment of freedom comes in Step 2 with the reopening of retail. Showrooms will be grouped into this collection of measures due to be implemented on April 12th. Whilst I am sure we all would have been hoping for an earlier reopening date, this at least gives installers with showrooms a date to put in the diary and to make arrangements for. Seven weeks today installers will get back a key part of their sales armoury.

It’s worth noting that these steps apply to England only. Scotland is due to reveal its plans tomorrow, and the other devolved nations will announce their plans too.

What this date does is it gives installers a chance to market this date as a day to invite customers who have had a quote but have not had a chance yet to see a product. It could be a huge driver of sales that day and in the days that follow. Installers should begin planning now to book appointments with clients. I believe there is a lot of business still to be won from homeowners who are sat on the fence about whether to spend their money or not.

It is of course worth mentioning that these steps are all subject to the virus. But so long as we keep on track with vaccinations and we stick with the cautious approach then hopefully the calendar the PM set out can be stuck to.

Holiday bookings soar

With a greater degree of certainty about foreign holidays, with a date set for the earliest possible resumption of international travel, airlines are reporting an enormous surge in bookings. Take this tweet from Bloomberg journalist Caroline Hyde:

My only concern for our sector has been that as vacations become viable again, are people going to rush to spend their money on travelling, potentially putting other spending decisions on the back burner in the hopes they can finally get away on holiday. If Easyjet is seeing bookings jumping by 630%, you can bet that most other airlines are going to be experiencing the same huge surges in demand. We just have to hope that there is enough spare cash in the public domain for people to spend on a number of big-ticket purchases and not just holidays.

Still, the big date for everyone will be June 21st. That is the earliest possible date where the Government hopes to lift all limits on social contacts. That appears to be the day where full freedoms will be restored and will likely be a day of national joy and great emotion as the country hopes to put the worst of the pandemic behind it. All we need now is a long, warm, sunny summer like we had in 2020 to give us all lots of excuses to get out there and meet our friends and family in our favourite places once again without fear.

The Government will be keen to reiterate people stick with the rules throughout the easing period. This isn’t a quick return to normal. Quite rightly, the Government is wanting to take this steady and not rush the reopening, risking backward steps. So keep positive. We can see the dates ahead of us now. We have something to aim for.

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