Builders’ merchants: what does 2015 have in store?

2015 will see a general election, new government policies and plenty of changes for builders’ merchants in the UK and Ireland.

29th January 2015

How does your business head into the New Year: full of optimism and a fresh impetus to win new business or cautious about what’s to come? You’d certainly be forgiven for taking the latter approach – given the many difficulties the construction industry and builders’ merchants have had to deal with over the past five years or so. The widespread adoption of new technology such as builders’ merchants software has boosted many independent retailers, and the construction industry has recovered from the decimation brought about by the recession, but many obstacles to success remain in place for builders’ merchants today. We predict what 2015 might have in store for builders’ merchants and other independent retailers.

The election
Of course, the biggest source of uncertainty in 2015 is the upcoming general election. On the 7th of May the electorate will head to the polling stations to have their say in the composition of the next government. Many commentators have stated that the outcome of this election is highly uncertain, and at this stage it appears unlikely that any one party will gain a majority. With another hung parliament and coalition government on the cards, the parties’ manifestos aren’t likely to provide any of the certainty that businesses seek. Nonetheless, it is worth mentioning that the UK certainly has a renewed pro-business stance that all the main parties will seek to extend. Small businesses in particular will continue to benefit from this approach.

Stamp Duty and the housing crisis
The rising cost of housing is one of the key themes that will dominate election season. The chronic undersupply of housing is undoubtedly the primary cause of rocketing rent costs and steadily increasing house prices. Different parties will take different approaches to resolving this problem, either through relaxing planning regulations, investing government money in housebuilding or by implementing more regulations to tackle empty homes and encourage redevelopment. It’s understandable that many companies will wait until a new government is formed before carrying out new building projects, and builders’ merchants should anticipate the pre-election lull in demand and plan their finances accordingly.

The autumn statement brought with it many announcements affecting the construction industry, but the most significant was certainly the change to Stamp Duty – the old slab system was replaced with an income tax-like system where only the amount above each threshold is taxed at a higher rate. This brought a short-term increase in transactions and is likely to prompt at least a small increase in housing supply, which builders’ merchants may well see the benefit of.

Late payments
Late payments continue to plague the industry, despite many government and industry efforts to crackdown on payment problems. It is likely that the issue of late payments will be confined to the later pages of party manifestos during the election season, but the two main parties have pledged to take steps to address the problem.

As is to be expected, much hinges upon the outcome of the general election and the nature of legislation implemented by the new government. Uncertainty is likely to be the key word in the industry over the coming months. Setting yourself up with a strong foundation to see your business through this tricky period is essential. Retail and point-of-sale software for builders’ merchants allows you to view your company’s finances in depth. Keep track of spiralling costs and optimise your promotions with the help of Trader.

Tagged under: Builders’ merchants software, software for builders’ merchants

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