£40m growth for bathroom market in 2019

Highlife Bathrooms

A new bathroom market report from MTW Research indicates that bathroom sales will grow by around £40 million in 2019.

Based on data from 130 bathroom suppliers, the report identifies rising ‘pent up demand’ in the bathroom market, highlighting growing latent demand for several sectors. Bathroom retailers are reporting healthy levels of enquiries according to MTW, but consumers remain reticent to commit to purchase due to Brexit paralysis and economic uncertainties.

Discussing the 200 page report, MTW director Mark Waddy said: “Strong fundamentals for the bathroom market are bubbling under the surface. 400,000 first time buyers in 2019, rising disposable incomes, consumers delaying bathroom refits for 3 years now, growth in experiential bathroom retailing and some great product innovation across the bathroom market are just some trends waiting to boost bathroom sales as soon as Brexit uncertainties are resolved.”

Whilst the report identifies a dwindling number of bathroom suppliers able to unlock these opportunities in 2019, a number of products are outperforming overall bathroom market sales. MTW identify a growing polarisation of the bathroom market, with higher value products underpinning optimism for bathroom retailers targeting the growth markets identified in the report.

The report also discusses key bathroom design trends with the bathroom’s evolution as a ‘retreat’ giving way to more multi-faceted demands from multi-generational and disabled households, changing lifestyles and design trends. MTW highlight myriad design trends supporting growth for bathroom manufacturers and retailers, including urban, luxury, industrial and geometric design trends; changing siting trends in the sanitaryware market, zoning in the bathroom furniture market; rising sophistication of the bathroom lighting market; shifting DIY market and mix and match trends in the brassware market.

Somewhat surprisingly, MTW found that the ‘Brexit effect’ may be starting to have a modest, positive impact for UK-based bathroom manufacturers. Bathroom retailers are becoming increasingly concerned about Brexit’s threat to bathroom imports, with some evidence of a shift to UK produced goods by higher value independent retailers as a result. This trend is modest at present according to MTW but is offering opportunities for UK bathroom manufacturers to use their ‘made in Britain’ credentials to add value and quell fears of supply chain disruption due to Brexit.

As well as identifying products outperforming the bathroom market, including the bathroom lighting market and higher value bathroom furniture market, the report also reviews bathroom distribution channel shares. The research found that share growth is slowing for online bathroom retailers in 2019.  With MTW finding bathroom industry profitability slipping from 5% in 2017 to just 3% in 2019, average prices may have now troughed, with some online retailers repositioning to enhance margins. MTW point to wider evidence of shifting trends in internet retailing, with Amazon recently opening its first physical retail store.