FIRST WORD | Build back better

Editor of Kitchens & Bathrooms News Philippa Turrell asks are you preparing to build back better?

24 Mar, 21

Editor of Kitchens & Bathrooms News Philippa Turrell asks are you preparing to build back better?

Kbb retail is resilient

Now PM Boris Johnson has outlined his footprint for coming out of lockdown and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has released budget details, supporting small kbb businesses, there seems to be renewed optimism.

In the short-term, kbb retail businesses can capitalise on pent-up demand, and longer-term sales could be buoyed by advantageous mortgages for first-time buyers and extension of the Stamp Duty holiday, supporting the housing market.

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While the industry was disappointed, some even dismayed, at the April 12 opening date for high street showrooms, there is now strong signs of a return to normality.

Within days, we will see customers return to the high street, showrooms reopening and  the familiar, customary and well-trodden path of kbb retailing resuming.

In fact, kitchen and bathroom retailers are already readying themselves for “crazy, busy” times ahead with an expected upturn, immediately after doors open.

When the pandemic first took hold, there was talk about how it could lead to a longer-term ‘new normal’, offering a different way of doing business than before.

Now, with the perhaps inevitable consequence of ‘lockdown fatigue’ that has enveloped the nation, there just seems to be a desire to get back to where we were.

But has COVID permanently changed the retail landscape?

For the retail sector, with its heavily-valued USPs of personal contact and developing relationships with customers, it saw them having to be agile and adapting to recreate their service digitally.

Kitchen and bathroom retailers have had to find new ways to not only find customers but also to close orders.

It could be tempting to consider the re-opening of showrooms as a return to a routine pattern of business.

And without doubt, studios are the natural habitat of kbb designers and a perfect place to inspire, inform and delight customers.

But are consumers, who have purchased online for over a year, ready to relinquish all of the digital experience?

Will kitchen and bathroom retailers have to work harder to entice them away from their keyboard, concentrating on creating a destination that offers a shopping experience?

Certainly, how retail can integrate its physical retail environment with a digital experience is a conversation the industry could be having in order to future-proof kbb retail and build back better.