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Bricks and mortar stores ‘cheaper than online’ for bathrooms, survey shows

Bathroomcompare image

New research into bathroom product pricing suggests multiple retailers offer the cheapest deals, while products offered by online dealers are significantly more expensive than previously thought.

Insight Retail Group (IRG), which runs consumer-facing price comparison websites for the KBB industry, tracks product, price and promotional activity across 10 traditional and online retailers.

In a survey carried out last December, and again on January 4, its database compared the prices of the ‘price entry’ or cheapest comparable item available across a total of 10 bricks-and-mortar and online retailers.

The products surveyed included close-coupled toilets, basins with full pedestal, straight baths and bath panels and basin and bath mixer taps.

IRG also compared the prices of a ‘total model bathroom’, including promotional activity, and found B&Q the cheapest at £217, Wickes second cheapest at £238.18, followed by Homebase at £255.56.

But when it compared online prices, it found UK Bathroom Warehouse had the highest price at £429.57, Bathstore was second highest at £333.90 and third highest at £330.

“The results were not what we expected,” commented IRG managing director Steve Collinge (pictured). “There is a general perception that online bathroom retailers are more competitively priced than the traditional bricks-and-mortar stores. This perception is increasingly being accepted by consumers and is also the general perception of the large, well-established retailers themselves.

“ [enables us] to reveal, for the first time, the true pricing position of each of the key retailers. We chose to focus on the single lowest-priced, comparable key product. It was in this very price-sensitive area where we expected the online retailers to have been significantly cheaper. However, the truth is, that in the case of every product surveyed, a traditional bricks-and-mortar retailer was the cheapest and when you add this basket of bathroom items together to create a bathroom ‘model’, the three cheapest retailers are the traditional retailers B&Q, Wickes and Homebase.

“Due to the price perception held both by the industry and increasingly by consumers that online retailers are cheaper, I think we’ve all missed the efforts that have been made by the much larger, established players such as Travis Perkins Group, Kingfisher and Home Retail Group, firstly to match and then beat the pricing of the online players. This is what we're now starting to see in this survey.”

Responding to the findings, one online dealer, who preferred to remain anonymous, said: “I presume this research was done by accountants or number-crunchers rather than anyone who knows anything about bathrooms.

“This report has referred to the cheapest Better Bathrooms toilet as ‘entry level’, yet also referred to Wickes's cheapest one as ‘entry level’, making the assumption that cheapest means ‘entry level’.

I guarantee you if you compare like for like (ie a Better Bathrooms toilet that is a 4/10 on the overall quality scale versus a Wickes toilet that is a 4/10 on the overall scale), then Better Bathrooms will murder Wickes for price and value for money. Let’s imagine we are buying a car. Would this company say an entry-level Audi can be compared to an entry-level Kia?

“But I do agree that too many companies focus on price promotion though rather than trying to educate the buyer. I strongly believe that if a company made efforts to explain why one tap is priced at £30 and a similar one is priced at £150, they would do well. I believe that in the case of brassware products, it should be compulsory to publish what percentage is copper, what percentage is zinc etc – much like they do on the packaging of food for salt, fat etc. It’s never going to happen though.”

Source : KBBReview

20 January 2015

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