The UK’s domestic window coverings market comprises four major product sectors which are curtains (including lightweight curtains such as voiles), blinds, shutters and curtain suspension systems. The UK window coverings market is estimated to have grown by 3% in 2019. Curtains represent the largest sector, although this has declined over the past few years as both blinds and shutters have increased in popularity.
As a mature market sector, but one that contains many innovative products, the window coverings market has tended to be relatively robust in the face of slowing consumer confidence and spending with evidence of down-trading when consumer spending is under pressure. In addition, the competitive pricing endemic within the market has usually been enough to underpin sales volumes but with value growth being squeezed.
However, the restrictions imposed by the UK Government in an attempt to slow the spread of Covid-19 have provided a perfect storm of circumstances which is likely to see significant decrease for the window coverings market in the short-term. The most wide-ranging effects are in terms of manufacturing and distribution with the need for safe working practices seeing a number of manufacturing businesses undertaking temporary closure or working at significantly lower capacities. Whilst those that have continued to remain open have now fully embraced online ordering and home delivery services, the closure of non-essential retail businesses from Day 1 of the restrictions has had a significant impact on the availability of many window coverings products. In addition, the “measured, made and fitted” businesses have also been severely affected by the immediate stop placed on home visits.
Future growth will be driven by a number of factors including the good prospects for the shutters sector, and for made-to-measure curtains and customised blinds, as well as a stronger housing market. There is increasing demand for more premium and motorised products, and the market value is also influenced by fluctuating exchange rates on imported goods. Whilst a blended approach of both online and offline distribution channels is likely to be offered by larger players in the marketplace, price competition will continue to abound online in the lower to mid end of the marketplace. The evolution of 24/7 ordering facilities will also continue to place increasing pressure on physical store offers, with faster lead times and more competitive prices.