The Great Paint Shortage of 2021

By Mike Cupit


Towards the end of 2020, we were warned there were likely to be paint shortages in the coming year. Covid was in full flow and was affecting just about every industry. Brexit was finally a thing too, which meant there was a lot of uncertainty. Oh, and the shortage of raw materials. Moreover, the DIY market was booming, meaning the UK needed to manufacture or import more paint than ever.


So, how did it play out? Was there a great paint shortage of 2021?

Well, it’s December 2021 now, so I thought I’d reflect on the past 11 months.


Paint Shortages in 2021


There has been paint shortages, but not on the scale we were told to expect. Tor-Coatings (Zinsser) and Tikkurila UK are both brands I use a lot of, and both have struggled with supply. Although I have always been able to source alternative products, it has been an inconvenience. I feel sorry for Tikkurila who have been met with frustration from decorators. However, in my eyes, they have ridden out a difficult period and supported us the best they could. I have it on good authority their supply is now stabilising, and we shouldn’t expect shortages moving forward.


The BIG 3 (Crown, Dulux and Johnstone’s) have all dealt with 2021 very well, but then they have more recourses. I know Crown Trade stockpiled paint and raw materials pre-2021, and I can only assume the others did too. It was difficult getting hold of sundries at times, but most trade paint was available whenever we needed it.


Price Increases 2021


Now this is a story and a half!! We may have avoided major paint shortages, but we’ve had one price increase after another. It got to the point where a decorator couldn’t give a fixed price when supplying paint!! It must be getting close to 30% increase since the start of 2021. That’s a lot of money!! So, if a sole trade spent £1,000 every month on paint in 2020, it is now closer to £1,300.


So, Have Decorators Struggled?


In a word, no. Not with business anyway. Paint shortages have also been a pain, but the industry is booming. Everybody was expecting some sort of recession after all the lockdowns, but it never came. I’m no economist so I’m probably a million miles off, but I think old Boris has borrowed enough to keep everyone going. Plus, I suppose people haven’t been on holiday. Whatever the reason, people spent more on home improvements in 2021. The modern decorator has benefited massively and most of us increased our prices.


What Will Happen in 2022?


Listen, we predicted mass paint shortages and a recession for 2021. The year before that, the world changed forever due to a pandemic. No one saw that coming either!! No way I’m going to predict anything for 2022. Maybe an invasion of green elephants? Who knows?

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The Great Paint Shortage of 2021