With the housing market in stasis, a jump in homeowner demand for more living space is driving growth in aluminium.
Figures released by the Nationwide house price index for May, showed a drop of 1.7% from April – the largest decline for 11 years. Analysts argue, however, that despite the fall and continuing concern about the health of the UK economy, house prices are in fact showing signs of stabilising, shored-up by furlough and the Government’s wider economic programme.
Housing transactions have, nonetheless, declined. According to Zoopla demand from new buyers had fallen by 70%. As a result, it expected the number of sales over the course of the year to be just half of 2019’s figure.
So, what does that mean for the UK home improvement sector? “Consumer confidence is fragile”, says Mike Parczuk, Managing Director. “It’s held up so far, but the coming months are going to be tough.
“If you look at what the economic downturn that we’re now seeing would normally mean, you’d be running for the hills – but this isn’t a ‘normal’ recession and the things that we would expect to see we aren’t seeing. House prices are holding up and homeowners are, for now, investing.
“They may not be confident enough to make the next step on the property ladder, but they do want more space and they continue to spend on home improvement.”
He argues that this is creating demand for single purchase products but also a continuation of demand pre-lockdown for aluminium, and in particular, the supply of product into home extensions.
“What we’re seeing in Starglaze, our retail business, and through those regular conversations that we’re having with our customers, is that the demand for aluminium hasn’t fallen away, and orders of bi-folding doors, windows, rooflights remain consistent with what we saw going into lockdown.
“Some of that is going to include pre-lockdown work but it’s clear that a sizeable proportion of what we’re seeing is also new business.”
This is because demand for new space appears to be at an all-time high. It appears if there is an unwillingness to move, homeowners’ appetite to improve, is undiminished.
Google tracks interest in search terms over time giving search terms a score of anywhere between zero to 100.
These scores have no quantitative meaning, a score of 70 on a particular day doesn’t mean that only 70 people searched for a term, it might be 100,000 or 100million, Google is simply tracking the popularity of a search term over a defined period.
What it shows for terms relating to ‘home and house extensions’ in the UK is a rapid and consistent jump in demand since the start of lockdown.
March 15-21, the days preceding lockdown on 23rd March, searches for home extensions dropped to a score of only 30. Fast forward to June 14-20 and Google tracks sustained growth to 100 – double the search traffic seen in the last 5-years.
“Searches for ‘aluminium windows and doors’ also scored ‘100’ in the same period”, says Mike. “Now I’m not suggesting you can simply overlay the two and prove that demand for aluminium and home extensions go ‘hand-in-hand’, but there is a correlation.”
Our aluminium offer includes the Visoline aluminium bi-folding door, manufactured in the Smart Visofold System, and inline sliding doors fabricated in Smart Visoglide plus the Alitherm300 window.
The investment we have made in our dedicated aluminium manufacturing facility and powder coating line, means that these are available glazed and in any RAL finish in 10-days or less.
We also offer a range of aluminium rooflights, a product tipped by our MD for future growth. “If you’re adding to the back of your house, the challenge is always how do get light back into the original footprint?
“Aluminium rooflights have seen a growth of that basis. They throw light back into the property.
“If you’re fitting aluminium bi-folds, rooflights, windows, you’ve fitted conservatories – the step into brick & mortar home extension is pretty small one if you’re not already doing them.
“If you are, the ‘freeze’ in the housing market, retained consumer confidence, the availability of cash for home improvement, the equity people still have in their homes – suggests it’s going to be a growth area in the months ahead.”
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