New research on the UK bathroom market has found bathroom retailers will benefit from shifting consumer preferences toward higher value bathrooms, with product development and sustainability driving growth this year and beyond.
MTW research says the recession resulted in a £250m loss for bathroom retailers, and asserts that without the downturn, the market would now be worth around £1bn, 35% more than the current market value.
Pricing pressures remain intense, said the report, due to rising import prices and the threat of competitive channels such as the internet, DIY multiples and supermarkets. MTW also points to a growing trend in consumers being increasingly forceful in negotiating discounts, which has continued to drive pricing pressure for bathroom retailers over the past year.
However, the report suggests that demand for higher quality bathrooms is now growing, and says sustainability should offer growth opportunities in the future. While consumers often have negative perceptions of environmentally-friendly products, relating to reduced flow rates, MTW has identified a number of opportunities for retailers able to "design, supply and install intelligent and comprehensive environmentally-friendly bathroom solutions".
The report said: "The development of comprehensive solutions, rather than the supply and fit of a bathroom, is indicated to hold significant opportunity for the future in the higher value bathroom retail market."
In terms of design, the market is somewhat polarised at the moment, says MTW. Minimalist, 'pure' designs in white and lighter shades remain the most popular choice, although consumers are becoming increasingly bold in their choice of opulent and rich, dark colours.
The retro trend towards floral patterns and glamorous décor maybe a short-term fad, said the report, but is driving added-value opportunities for retailers seeking to offer a more 'decadent' design option.