Offering a useful benchmark for the wider merchant sector, the latest Travis Perkins plc ‘RMI Index’ survey of over 1,500 UK tradespeople has revealed the vast majority are optimistic on their near-term prospects, with increased demand for energy efficiency projects as homeowners grapple with rising heating costs offsetting the pressures they are experiencing as a result of rising fuel costs.
Over nine in ten (93%) respondents to the survey believe their workloads will increase or remain the same over the next two months, while over two thirds (61%) expect their materials purchasing requirements to increase. Furthermore, 71% of respondents — who represent a snapshot of the nation’s builders, electricians, plumbers, joiners and other tradespeople — are seeing an increased level of demand for projects designed to make their customers’ homes more energy efficient, such as improved insulation for cavity walls, lofts, walls and ceilings as well as heat pumps and renewable energy sources.
However, the impact of rising petrol and diesel costs has also altered how the trade are operating, with eight in ten saying they have changed how they do business. This includes passing on higher fuel costs to customers when pricing projects (39%), choosing to work more locally (31%), and requesting that products be delivered rather than collected (29%).
“With one of the oldest housing stocks in Europe, the UK’s ambition of achieving net zero carbon by 2050 depends on remedial activity, which will lower the heating bills today and decarbonise our homes for the future.”
Tradespeople are also increasingly turning towards technology to help them combat higher prices at the pumps, with 12% saying that they are holding more virtual visits with clients instead of visiting them in person. 6% also said that they have decided to invest in more fuel-efficient cars or work vehicles.
Travis Perkins CEO Nick Roberts commented: “Having met the challenges posed by the pandemic head on, the resilience of the UK’s tradespeople continues to be tested as they, once again, have to adapt their businesses to deal with other challenges facing the wider economy. Nevertheless, they remain confident in the outlook for their businesses and, while many are having to adjust how they operate to deal with rising fuel prices, the increased demand for projects that improve the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock is encouraging.
“With one of the oldest housing stocks in Europe, the UK’s ambition of achieving net zero carbon by 2050 depends on remedial activity, which will lower the heating bills today and decarbonise our homes for the future. Along with housebuilders and developers, it is the UK’s army of tradespeople who will ultimately make this happen and we are ready to work in partnership with them to help deliver this vision.”