You can almost feel it, can’t you? That post-school-holiday rush to pick up and finish home improvement projects is just about upon us. That period of the year (leaving out the pandemic years which upended everything) which is one of the busiest and where companies can have their most profitable couple of months.

September begins on Friday, and so will begin the expected seasonal rush to have windows and doors installed before Christmas. It may be the sole reason some companies survive.

Pre-Christmas rush looms

Disregarding the pandemic years, which saw lockdowns and travel restrictions totally change the usual seasonal norms within the UK fenestration sector, we are about to enter what should be one of the busiest periods of the year.

Each and every year, as the school holidays end, parents go back to focusing on their homes and rushing to finish projects before Winter sets in and the Christmas holidays come around.

Perhaps more than in previous years, the pre-Christmas rush is going to be a more important period than ever for some companies. There has been a marked difference in trading conditions this year. More companies have gone bust this year than previous years. Sales activity is down. Frames per order are down and recent FENSA data pointed to a sharp decline in registered installations.

All that points to a picture where the industry as a whole is going to have a much less profitable year. This then places more importance on the performance of the pre-Christmas rush over the next 6-8 weeks. For some companies, it may be the difference between making it through the new year or not.

For us at our family run business, we have already noticed an uptick. Usually it begins during the first couple of days of September, but during the past week or so there has been an obvious change in the number of appointments and sales compared to July and the first three weeks in August. As a result, we have only a few weeks left of the year to fill, which is a nice place to be in at the end of the year considering the tough year it has been.

Festive obsession drives sales

This period of the year always amuses me. Without fail you see endless clients rushing in to the showroom or inbox hoping to grab a spot in the last few weeks of the year, all in the hopes of getting their new door and windows fitted before Christmas. Usually because they’re the ones hosting a Christmas party or they just want to show off what they have spent.

That obsession with the festive period drives sales. It is a very useful couple of months for companies as we enter the end of Q3 and go into Q4. The number of leads rises. Sales are quicker to get over the line. Although there is no real logic to it, Christmas is a major marker in the psyche of homeowners and is a target to get projects finished by. It’s productive if you’re in fenestration.

It can also be very stressful. If you’re an installations company that already works 8-10 weeks in advance, or further, you may already be facing a scenario where you’re almost fully booked for 2023. Trying to keep your scheduling in tact, whilst trying not to disappoint new clients looking to place orders with you becomes a tricky task. You certainly don’t want to lose business to the company down the road who can throw something in within a few weeks.

Pressure then mounts on suppliers. They have to give deadlines to installers and hope that their installers order everything on time so that they can fulfil their own promises to their own clients. Thankfully, the pressure that the supply chain was under a couple of years ago is nowhere near what it was. But there is always that shift in momentum over the next 8 weeks which will keep suppliers and manufacturers on their toes.

All being well, we will see a busy pre-Christmas period where lots of business can be done which will hopefully make up for some lost ground by the slow start to the year.

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