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COVID-19 Spread ‘Taking a Toll’ on Industry, NKBA Finds

HACKETTSTOWN, NJ — Members of the National Kitchen & Bath Association are “weathering the coronavirus storm as best they can,” although the impact of the spreading COVID-19 pandemic is “taking an obvious toll on all business, including remodeling and home building,” the NKBA says.

According to a survey conducted last week by the Hackettstown, NJbased trade association – whose membership includes kitchen and bath designers, building/construction professionals, manufacturers and retail/sales pros – the combination of a country under virtual quarantine, uncertain prospects for economic recovery, and health-related concerns tied to COVID-19 are taking a significant toll on the residential kitchen and bath business.

Results of the NKBA survey, culled from nearly 1,000 respondents, were published on the association’s website.

According to the NKBA, the average benchmark rating of COVID-19’s impact on business is 7.4 on a scale of 1 (no impact) to 10 (significant impact). Designers and building/construction pros rated the impact at 7.4, manufacturers reported the least impact at 6.8, while retailers were highest at 7.6.

Among the factors having the great impact on business is the desire by potential customers to practice social distancing (70% of survey respondents), the NKBA said. By comparison, 68% of business owners cited their own desire to practice social distancing, 65% pointed to customers’ financial uncertainty and 62% cited the need to take care of themselves and their families.

Stock market volatility, the sharp decline in personal wealth and rising unemployment are also contributing to clients’ financial uncertainty, the NKBA said. Among designers and builders, 52% said they’re experiencing delays on current or upcoming projects, and 19% said they had some jobs cancelled, according to the association. Among retailers and dealers, 44% said some of their projects were delayed; 16% said some current or upcoming jobs had been cancelled, the NKBA added.

Other survey findings were as follows:

  • The top factors impacting retail sales were consumers’ desire to practice social distancing, cited by 65% of respondents, while 61% cited the need to protect the health and safety of their workers. Consumers’ financial uncertainty was cited by 60%, and 57% cited their own desire to practice social distancing.
  • Among manufacturers, worker safety and financial concerns topped the list of concerns. Some 67% of those surveyed cited the need to protect the health and safety of their employees; 66% said economic uncertainty was having a significant impact; 58% cited customers’ financial uncertainty, and 52% called out stock market volatility.
  • The top measures being implemented or considered to confront the threat mostly concern limiting contact with other people. For example, 92% of survey respondents said they’re postponing or canceling large events; 87% cut back on trade show attendance; 81% have restricted employee travel, and 80% are encouraging telephone meetings or videoconferencing instead of face-to-face meetings. Additionally, 11% said they’ve already laid off employees.

“Although NKBA members are facing unprecedented challenges, many are responding with creativity, grit and determination – adjusting their business models (and) interacting virtually with clients to keep current projects moving and to cultivate new projects,” the NKBA said.

“NKBA members have proven to be resilient, and (are) determined to use their exceptional creativity to power through almost any challenge,” the association added. “The housing recession of 2008-2009 tested everyone, and the strong survived. While this may be a bigger test, NKBA members will find a way to work in this new world, as well.”

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