The latest facts and figures from the British Home Enhancement Trades Association (BHETA) and what they men for suppliers to the home improvement industry.

(PMI) that the ongoing uncertainties caused by global tensions, Brexit and slower world growth have yet again resulted in falling orders, I am starting to pick up some positive feelings in the industry. “It may be that

B these tentative

reports of better economic news from among the BHETA membership are reflecting one of the most interesting figures in these ONS statistics – that department stores saw an increase in the value of sales for the first time this year. Just 1.6% it may be, but when you consider that this comes after six consecutive months of decreasing value, then there is certainly a positive story to be acknowledged. “One of the clearest features of all these small glimmers of hope is that the companies with the brightest outlooks are those who took the most creative approach to the economic challenges we have all been facing. Whether it was by diversification into allied markets or upping the emphasis on pursuing new markets overseas, any rewards that have been achieved have been down to innovation and individual effort. In several cases I have come across recently the innovation might be better termed reinvention.

Both at

Glee and at Autumn Fair, there was some great evidence of companies rifling through their portfolios of once famous but latterly neglected brands and reviving them with new product

launches, new marketing

and a whole new approach. Clearly there are some significant successes to be had tapping into consumer fondness for half-forgotten but still trusted names, with or without the retro styling which sometimes goes with them.

“Key to it all is confidence and the willingness to try new things. Viewing challenges, whether they be new legislation, sustainability or changing consumer shopping habits, as opportunities is a tough call, but can and does pay off. HETA chief

operating officer, Will Jones says: “Despite a salutary reminder from the Purchasing Managers’ Index

“I am hoping that the confidence to try is infectious – and that it infects retailers and, crucially, consumers as well as the suppliers I have been discussing. With employment rates as high as they have ever been since comparable records began, I think we have a chance.”

Consumer price index

The consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) 12-month inflation rate was 2.0% in July 2019, increasing from 1.9% in June 2019. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) 12-month rate was 2.1% in July 2019, increasing from 2.0% in June 2019.

Retail sales In the three months to July 2019, the quantity bought in retail sales increased by 0.5% when compared with the previous three months, with food stores and fuel stores seeing a decline. Department stores’ growth increased for the first time this year with a growth of 1.6% following six consecutive months of decline.

Mortgage approvals According to the Bank of England, mortgage approvals increased to 66,400 and the number of approvals

for re-mortgaging rose slightly to 47,000. Notwithstanding these small rises, mortgage approvals remained within the narrow ranges seen over the past three years. The annual growth rate of mortgage lending remained stable at 3.1%.

UK House Price Index Average house prices in the UK increased by 0.9% in the year to June 2019, unchanged from May 2019. Over the past three years, there has been a general slowdown in UK house price growth, driven mainly by a slowdown in the south and east of England.

Labour market

The UK employment rate for April - June 2019, was estimated at 76.1%, the

joint-highest on record since

comparable records began in 1971. The UK unemployment rate was estimated at 3.9%; lower than a year earlier (4.0%); on the quarter the rate was 0.1% points higher.

Construction output Construction output decreased by 1.3% in Quarter 2 (Apr to June) 2019 largely reversing the increase of 1.4% in Quarter 1 (Jan to Mar) 2019. The decrease was driven by a fall of 2.6%

in repair and maintenance in Quarter 2 2019, which was due largely to the 6.0% decline in private housing repair and maintenance.

Commodity prices

After two months of sharp declines, energy prices rebounded 2.4% in July; they are currently up 3.0% for the year. Non-energy commodities were mixed: agriculture commodities fell 1.5% and fertilizers fell 3.2%, while metals and minerals rose 3.2%.

Foreign exchange analysis Sterling fell back from a near three- week high against the euro on Monday 19th but sentiment towards the pound was better than in recent sessions as investors hoped Britain and the EU would make some progress in Brexit talks. 1 GBP = 1.09 EUR 1 GBP = 1.21 USD

Purchasing Managers Index The UK Manufacturing PMI came in at 48.0 in July 2019, unchanged from the previous months. Output contracted the most in seven years amid a solid drop in new orders due to ongoing uncertainties surrounding global trade tensions and Brexit, and slower world economic growth.


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