Just one third of cleaning businesses (34 per cent) are forecasting price increases in 2024, a significant turnaround from the 90 per cent who predicted increases in 2023, new research from cleaning manufacturer and distributor Robert Scott has revealed.
The results highlight a cautious optimism for the year from the cleaning industry. Key contributors to the positive outlook include an anticipation that inflation and supply chain issues will have less impact in 2024 compared to 2023.
Alastair Scott, Sales Director at Robert Scott, commented: “2024 is set to be a mixed bag of optimism amidst some persisting uncertainties. While the industry is not fully insulated from the impacts of ongoing global events such as the conflict in Ukraine and logistical challenges in the Red Sea, there is a sense of emerging stability.
“In response, businesses are adopting a wait-and-see approach, while remaining hopeful for economic recovery. Cost rises have certainly already begun to ease, and many businesses have absorbed elements of previous increases to reduce the impact on their customers – a commitment we share at Robert Scott.”
With continuing financial pressures, the survey revealed that achieving value for money remains crucial, with 62 per cent of respondents predicting it will be the leading industry trend in 2024. Scott added: “We’re observing an industry trend towards greater efficiency and a holistic approach to cost-analysis, considering the total lifecycle costs of cleaning products and the value they add.
“The success of our Toucan Eco range is a testament to this shift, offering both immediate and long-term financial benefits while supporting safer work environments and contributing to sustainability goals, through reduced chemical use and plastic wastage. These benefits can combine to create a very compelling proposition to clients focused on their own sustainability goals too.”
Sustainability indeed emerges as a significant industry concern, with over 80 per cent of survey participants acknowledging its importance to their clients. Consequently, initiatives to cut down on plastic waste (55 per cent) and promote green cleaning (48 per cent) have seen a notable increase in priority since last year, ranking as the second and third biggest predicted trends for 2024 respectively.
These priorities align closely with initiatives Robert Scott has put in place as it strives to become carbon neutral by 2045. For example, the company is working with its supply chain to move essential products – from wet floor signs to buckets – over to 70+ per cent recycled plastic content. Over the last 12 months, this has already saved 220 tonnes of virgin plastic. Additional plastic reduction and recycling initiatives helped Robert Scott save a further 50 tonnes of plastic over 2023.
With a general election looming, 20 per cent of respondents also anticipate that the political environment will impact their business this year. Key industry expectations for the government include measures to combat inflation (34 per cent) and reduce regulatory hurdles (21 per cent).
Scott added: “Despite the headwinds, it’s an exciting period for our industry with emerging opportunities arising as the sector adapts to new market priorities. Businesses with robust sustainability practices are set to stand out in the market, and as the industry continues to grapple with labour shortages, investing in training and innovation will help businesses enhance workforce efficiency.
“We have almost 100 years’ heritage and experience of adapting to change and helping cleaning businesses succeed in the face of evolving demand. We’re likewise committed to supporting our customers make the most of the opportunities on offer today, through cutting-edge, sustainable solutions that not only elevate cleaning standards but also enrich the careers of those within the industry.”
The survey also explored Robert Scott’s customer satisfaction levels.
Scott concluded: “We’re also committed to providing the best possible service to professionals in the cleaning industry, so customer satisfaction levels are incredibly important to us. We’re therefore very proud that 93 per cent of our customers rated our overall service as good or great, with 100 per cent stating they’d recommend our products. This is an area we’ll continue to dedicate ourselves to and ensure we never rest on our laurels.”
Additionally, 97 per cent of respondents stated that Robert Scott had good or great product availability.