Is Plumbing a Growing Industry?

Published: 08 Jul 2022 ・ Read time: 8 mins
Yes. Thanks for reading!
…Ok, let’s talk about it. With economic uncertainty currently rife across every industry, professionals rightfully want to know what the future holds for their sector. For plumbers, learning the ins and outs of industry demand and performance is vital when considering future plans and overall business strategy.
Knowing how the plumbing sector has performed throughout the turbulence of the past few years can provide us with an accurate idea of how the industry is set to grow over the next decade, so let’s start by taking a closer look at the plumbing industry’s performance over the past few years.

UK Plumbing Industry Performance

It’s no secret that turbulence and economic fallout were experienced by everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment rates were up, and demand was down, and the plumbing industry was one of the hardest hit. The first half of 2020 was a disaster for plumbers – both new construction and replacement sectors saw unprecedented losses due to imposed restrictions and ongoing instability. It was a tough, anxiety-inducing period for every tradesperson.
Fortunately, a large portion of the demand that plumbers had lost returned towards the end of 2020. With a stamp duty holiday, low pandemic interest rates and hugely favourable market conditions, the plumbing industry as a whole was firmly set on the path to recovery.
From mid-2020 onwards, the plumbing sector experienced largely accelerated growth. Plumbing work was deemed ‘essential’ after the initial wave of the pandemic, and the combination of increased freedom for plumbers to work and greater incentives for customers to hire them led to a surge in revenue.
Despite this sudden upturn in industry demand, it wasn’t all smiles and roses. Brexit had greatly disturbed demand patterns, and COVID – alongside other, canal-related incidents – had all but decimated material supply chains. This meant professionals had a much harder time sourcing the materials needed to complete their jobs. Delays were rife, and industry revenue was down once again.
This was further exasperated by an extremely challenging and competitive marketplace, as contractors fought for projects and the supplies required to complete them. Nonetheless, plumbers and installers managed to find pockets of growth sprinkled throughout the sector.
Housebuilding and housing stock, in general, was way up - largely due to sustained policies that accelerated new builds. This led to vastly increased activity for heating, air conditioning, and ventilation installers, and plumbing installation services were up across the board.
City Plumbing supporting plumbers around the UK
Graph showing plumbing industry performance 2019 - 2022
UK Plumbing Sector Revenue (£ billion) - Source

Industry Outlook

With the stamp duty holiday and low-interest rates now almost completely phased out, professionals want to know what’s next for their industry.
Thankfully, industry experts expect the market to return to typical slow-growth conditions. Whilst the industry won’t magically return to pre-pandemic levels of ‘normal’, a more stable rate of growth is expected going forward.
Whilst problems do still exist and supply chains struggle to catch up, 2022 is already a far better year than 2021. Growth has largely returned to normal as projects resume, and housing stock demand remains high.
Additionally, professionals who specialise in environmental installations (heat pumps, solar thermal, etc.) are noticing far greater demand in both business and homeowner markets – a demand which is only likely to increase going forward. This is due to increased ecological awareness, combined with greater initiatives which incentivise the installation of energy-efficient and renewable heating and plumbing technology.
All kinds of plumbers are expected to tackle tough market challenges going forward. These are challenges faced by the construction sector as a whole – such as further supply chain disruption and the continued economic fallout due to the pandemic.
One such challenge to overcome is the invasion of Ukraine, which is a top supplier of the machinery and raw materials commonly used in plumbing. We also have to contend with continued inflationary pressures and the trials and tribulations that Brexit brings.
Despite this, the plumbing industry as a whole is on track to see a market size increase of 2.3% throughout 2022, which is looking to continue into 2023.
City Plumbing plumber at work
What Does This Mean for Plumbers?
Currently, the plumbing, heating and air conditioning installation industry ranks 5th overall throughout every construction industry. This is a positive sign and is driving more and more aspirational plumbing apprentices into our industry.
Big growth opportunities can be found throughout a number of sectors, including environmentally conscious installations, and commercial construction thanks to the post-pandemic rebound.
Construction demand is expected to rise during 2023, presenting further opportunities for installers to increase their revenue.
Whilst the outlook remains largely positive in many aspects of the plumbing industry, it’s important for professionals to have every advantage in order to weather future challenges.
By applying for a City Plumbing trade account, you’ll get exclusive trade discounts on essential products online and from any of our 370+ branches nationwide. With free delivery and click and collect, a City Plumbing trade account ensures consistently low trade prices from brands you know and trust.

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