Industry is growing, but companies are scrambling to keep workers, says NKBA
August 25, 2021 | 12:14 pm CDT

Photo By Sarah Bell-Rossi. Designed by Lana Zepponi Meyers, AKBD

HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. – The National Kitchen & Bath Association, a trade association made up of kitchen and bath professionals, uncovered a number of interesting findings in its latest survey.

First, the industry is growing, with an estimated 11 percent growth in sales for Q2 over Q1. Double-digit price increases are common across common kitchen and bath products and 60 percent of designers have reported a backlog of at least three months. 

Second, labor challenges are mounting.

"As the qualified labor pool continues to shrink with early retirement and career changes, building and construction companies are scrambling to incentivize their current workforce. 80 percent of companies reported increasing labor rates to retain employees – with nearly two-thirds reporting increasing rates of as much as 19 percent. This continues to increase the overall price of the project and delay the timeframes of planned remodels. However, clients continue to move forward with projects and are willing to pay for products and finishes in demand."

The survey also found that COVID-19’s impact is lessening.

"While industry experts and professionals keep a watchful eye on the progression of the Delta variant, members reported a significant drop in the pandemic’s impact on business, giving it a score of 4.9 out of 10 - down significantly from around 6 the previous three quarters.

"Future conditions are flashing warning signals though, as price hikes and lead times are beginning to take a toll. Many members are becoming creative, ordering months in advance to circumvent lead times and lessen the sting of price hikes."

Customers have been willing to pay higher prices.

"Despite an increase in material costs, nearly half of retailers (46 percent) have begun to see a shift in typical price points demanded by customers with 89 percent saying their customers are shifting toward the pricier, higher-end finishes."

Overall, the NKBA says it's optimistic. 

“We’re encouraged by the findings from our report on the Kitchen & Bath industry, which reaffirms the longer outlook of the field as one of growth and strong earnings,” said Bill Darcy, NKBA CEO. “While we are seeing the continued delay of materials and increase in labor costs causing problems and concerns within the sector, it also shows that the skyrocketing demand for remodeling projects has continued. In fact, the industry is experiencing an increased interest in higher-end products as consumers are spending more time than ever in their homes due to the ongoing pandemic and are prioritizing comfort and luxury, particularly when it comes to kitchen and bath improvements.”


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Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at