Builders merchants’ positive sales trend continues

21 August 2017

A continuing positive trend for UK builders merchants was reported in Q2, according to the latest data from the Builders Merchants Federation’s (BMF) Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI).

Q2 merchants’ sales increased by 5.3% (when adjusted for there being two fewer trading days in period) compared to Q2 2016.

The actual Q2 year-on-year sales figure (for 61 days trading compared to 63 in 2016) is still positive at +1.9%. Furthermore, year-to-date sales figures to June were 3.8% higher than for 2016, a period with the same number of trading days.

The majority of product areas performed well in Q2. Sales of ironmongery (+8.4%) and kitchens and bathrooms (+8.3%) led the way in adjusted year-on-year growth for the quarter. The three largest product groups also performed well with sales of timber & joinery up by 6.0%, landscaping up by 5.9% and heavy building materials increasing by 5.6%.

The BMBI tracks builders merchants’ actual sales using point of sale data collected by GfK that represents over 80% of the value of the builders’ merchant market.

The Q2 results appear to tell a different story to the trend reported by the Office of National Statistics earlier this month, in which overall construction output fell by -1.3% in the three months to June compared with Q1 and rose by just +0.4% on the same period last year.

This may reflect the predominance of housebuilding and domestic repair, maintenance and improvement work carried out by builders merchants’ customer base.

“The majority of trade indicators are finding that order books are being sustained by private housing and RMI work – the mainstay of many a merchant’s business – while commercial sectors are falling behind,” said John Newcomb, BMF CEO.