HACKETTSTOWN, NJ — Traffic at kitchen and bath showrooms was apparently picking up during the third quarter of 2009 – a sign that consumers may be feeling increasingly confident about impending improvements in the nation’s economy, a new study by the National Kitchen & Bath Association concludes.
According to the association’s latest in a quarterly series of “Business Barometer” studies, surveyed NKBA dealer-members reported that showroom activity in September of 2009 rose to an average of 18.7 visitors per month, up from the previous three quarters. By comparison, surveyed NKBA dealers reported an average of 16.4 showroom visitors in December of 2008. Three months later, that figure increased to 18.7, but fell to an average of 13.4 in June (see accompanying graphic below).
The Hackettstown, NJ-based NKBA also reported that the general trend in dealer sales volume matched that of showroom visitors, with an increase from the fourth quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009, followed by a drop in the second quarter. The third quarter then saw sales volumes returning to first-quarter levels, an average of 6.5 monthly kitchen sales.
“An even more encouraging sign for the kitchen and bath industry than the recovery in sales volume is the sharp increase in the average price of each kitchen sale,” the NKBA said, noting that while the average selling price for kitchens remained almost completely flat from the fourth quarter of 2008 through the second quarter of 2009, there was a 20% spike in the mean price in the third quarter, from $27,475 to $33,175.
According to the NKBA, its third-quarter 2009 survey revealed that bathroom sales trends are acting inversely to kitchen sales trends – a possible sign “that as the economy improves, consumers turn their attention away from smaller, more affordable bath remodels to larger, costlier kitchen projects.”
After remaining flat from Q1 to Q3, bathroom sales volume among surveyed NKBA dealer-members dropped from an average of 4.8 sales in the first and second quarters to 4.2 sales in the third quarter. However, average selling prices took off in the third quarter, from $9,800 in June to $15,570 in September, the NKBA reported.
Since December of 2008, the NKBA has conducted its “Business Barometer” by surveying dealer-members to track quarterly changes in the kitchen and bath market. Results of the latest survey, released in late-December, reflect the responses of about 200 kitchen and bath dealers across the U.S. and Canada, the NKBA said.
An increase in the number of showroom visitors in the fourth quarter of 2009 offers reason for optimism, according to the NKBA, whose recent survey results suggest that consumer confidence may be rising once again with regard to remodeling. The survey results also showed notable increases in the average selling prices for both kitchens and baths.