After a sluggish start to the year, Q2 sales were better than expected, and we saw a return to pre-Covid levels. The market was positively buoyant as better weather and increasing consumer confidence kept landscapers busy and stock moving quickly out the door.
What is behind the turnaround in fortunes for the market after a dip in the second half of 2022 and Q1 2023 is still unclear. One factor could be that package holidays are up to 30% more expensive than last year, pricing many families out of a summer holiday but leaving them with money to spend on outdoor living projects. Appetite for home improvements seems to be enduring too despite the cost-of-living crisis – at the top and the middle of the market at least.
Falling shipping costs continue to cause headaches for suppliers and merchants alike, as it is devaluing stock on the ground. Transportation costs are currently sitting below their true cost (currently $650 a container when it should be $950), so we expect rates to go up again in the future.
Product-wise, it’s all about porcelain. In Q2, premium porcelain sales went from strength to strength, while entry-level porcelain took an increased share of sandstone sales as the price points are similar. but the product looks more impressive.
Our marble porcelain became our bestselling mid-range product, outselling our other products in the category five to one. This is indicative of consumer demand for ‘wow’ options for their landscaping projects, replicating designs shared on Pinterest and Instagram. Feature areas in gardens of all size are currently trending, and we are seeing some incredible designs from our landscaper partners.
The biggest challenge in the industry is currently new entrants, particularly companies who specialise in interior tiles making the leap into the outdoor market and undercutting established suppliers. As a specialist with many years of experience and product research behind us, we understand the challenges of making and laying paving products in a way these companies don’t. We would urge merchants to ensure they opt for paving products which offer best quality, value and after sales support for customers – not just the lowest price.