What’s hot in showers and enclosures?

To ensure installers are on the pulse, Richard Harvey, commercial director at Wolseley Plumb and Parts has highlighted the exciting new trends in the showers and enclosures marketplace this year


t’s true what they say, there’s no place like home. The majority of us have realised this throughout 2020; with COVID-19 restrictions forcing us inside, more people have begun to invest in renovating their homes which have become more integral to their lives than ever before. Showers and enclosures, in addition to being vital to our cleanliness and general health, are now after-work sanctuaries for customers to retreat to once their working-from-home day has come to an end.

Going digital

While still relatively new, growth in the digital shower market is expected to continue. With 2020 having provided the perfect opportunity to save, consumers are now looking to invest in the latest technology throughout all aspects of their home. Alexa and Google home assistants have enabled the smart integration of home appliances, including air conditioning and central heating. As the market moves towards smart technology, the digital shower has become the next step towards creating a smart home ecosystem.

Digital showers provide multiple benefits to the end-user which gives installers further incentive to adopt and encourage the use of the new technology. Those looking to invest in the technology can benefit from accurate temperature control and improved excess water wastage all controlled by voice, giving the user the ability to get the shower running while finishing up tasks around the house. From an installation perspective, there is little work needed to adopt the new technology as a new offering to customers. Installing a digital shower is very much the same as installing any shower, with the added task of connecting it up to a customer’s voice assistant system once installed – a skill that’s easy to learn and relatively intuitive. The real task installers face is selling the technology to consumers

worried about their budget. A standard good quality mixer shower could cost between £100-250 whereas a digital equivalent could cost upwards of £400-600. While we expect to see a surge in popularity over the year, encouraging the adoption of the technology will be essential if installers are looking to expand their offering and increase potential business.

Quality over cost

Perhaps another result of saving up while in lockdown, there has been a noticeable increase in preference for higher quality materials in new shower enclosures. While traditionally 6mm glass has been the industry standard and popular choice, 2020 has seen a rise in consumers choosing to invest in higher-quality 8-10mm glass panels.

Installations are becoming easier

While there is a rise in consumer interest for higher- end enclosures, more conventional enclosures are becoming cheaper and easier to install. With installers in mind, the market is beginning to see new solutions that will save both time and manpower. An example of this is Merlyn’s new IQ range, specifically designed to make a two-person job a one- person job. Using a patent-pending easy fit system, the shower enclosure doesn’t feature any screws on the shower frame assembly and is designed to be built on the shower tray in under five minutes, making it an ideal solution for small bathrooms and ensuites. With the market heading towards more efficient installing technology, installers should take the time to consider what is available at their local merchant to ensure they can offer cheaper and quicker solutions to customers working on a budget. Wolseley Plumb & Parts staff are in regular training sessions with leading suppliers to ensure they have the specialist knowledge of the latest technologies.

Black is back

With people looking to create exciting and unique shower spaces, the popularity of black shower enclosures and fittings has grown throughout 2020 and is expected to rise during 2021.

A universal colour that adds depth and contrast to any bathroom, black allows installers to help consumers dramatically transform the appearance of their bathroom into something that truly stands out. While consumers may not have the budget to completely renovate their bathroom space, adding black fittings and enclosures can help achieve a stylised space on an affordable budget. Practically, black can provide installers with a good selling point to customers worried about the functionality of their shower enclosure. Naturally hiding dirt and grime, the colour will help elevate the shower space without sacrificing upkeep and maintenance.

Functionality is attractive

Quite often when designing a bathroom shower enclosure, there needs to be a balance between its style and its basic functionality. However, over the past year, we have seen a rise in practical fittings that focus on maintaining style.

For instance, historically anti-slip shower trays have been an essential inclusion but quite clinical in their aesthetic finish. This past year we have seen a rise in anti-slip properties integrated into stylised shower trays, allowing customers to better customise their new shower enclosure without worrying about their safety. Similarly, we are seeing more choices for customers requiring mobility installations, enabling style and practicability. No longer must grab bars and shower seats look reminiscent of a hospital bathroom, customers have a wide variety of options that installers should be ready to accommodate to keep up with the market’s demand for elevated style.

30 August 2021


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