Keylite Comment: Q1 2024

So, the tough market got tougher!

Q1 is never the best part of the year, with short days and poor weather not conducive to high levels of construction activity. We expect January and February to be a bit slow and focus our time on the opportunities that spring brings. Except spring never really did come! As a category, roofing is particularly affected by the weather and this year has been particularly severe, with high winds and high rain fall.

The general consensus amongst merchants and builders alike is that April was worse still, bucking the expected trend. However, things finally seem to be turning in May with signs of recovery in new build and higher footfall in merchants. The market will take more time to fully recover confidence, however. At minimum we are seeing both catch up from delayed projects in Q1 and the usual seasonal improvement, which is most welcome.

Quote levels remain high, indicating that there are projects out there to be won. Many of these have been delayed, either due to the weather or due to a lack of confidence, decision makers choosing to wait for a better housing market or cheaper finance or both.

Confidence has improved dramatically since the lows of the early months of 2023, and GfK’s Consumer Confidence Index showed a further 2-point improvement in April. While the Overall Index remains negative, there was a +2 score for how consumers feel about their personal finances in the next 12 months, and a 2-point improvement in the Major Purchase Index, which includes larger home improvement projects such as room-in-a-roof conversions which roof windows enable.  However, the official statistics on activity levels are barely changed since my last update.

The uncertainty in UK politics is not helping our sector. We urgently need Government to recognise the GDP benefits to the UK economy of a buoyant construction and housing market, and drive consistency in policy and support with appropriate stimulus.

Until then, we will focus on what we control and keep providing first class innovation in product and service and chasing those opportunities that have the green light!

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