Builders’ Merchants’ sales up year-on-year as industry continues growth trajectory

20 July 2021

The latest figures from the Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) reveal that year-on-year sales through UK builders’ merchants are on an upward trajectory, as the industry continues to meet sustained high demand for building products.

Total merchants value sales were up 79.6% in May 2021 compared to May 2020 with no difference in trading days, though lockdowns in 2020 does affect the sales comparison.

Comparisons with May 2020 show a turnaround in fortunes for many categories. Tools performed the best (+180%) after being the weakest category in May 2020, and six other categories more than doubled year-on-year sales, including Kitchens & Bathrooms (+154.9%), Plumbing Heating & Electrical (+118.1%) and Timber & Joinery Products (+115.1%).

Total sales were also up compared to May 2019 (+7.9%), with two less trading days, and average sales a day were 19.3% higher over the same period.

While May 2021 sales are much improved on May 2020, some categories are still waiting to hit their pre-pandemic levels. Comparisons with May 2019 sales show that just three of the 12 categories sold more, led by Timber & Joinery Products (+28.1%) and Landscaping (+26.5%).

May’s BMBI index was 141.4, with two less trading days, demonstrating builders’ merchants’ continuing sales growth. Nine of the 12 categories exceeded 100, with Landscaping (220.5) and Timber & Joinery Products (173.2) both out-performing merchants overall.

Mike Rigby, CEO of MRA Research which produces this report, said: “Year-on-year sales are looking strong and they will surely continue to gather momentum as the remaining restrictions are lifted and more inside trades get back to work.

“To ensure we continue on a growth trajectory, balancing supply and demand will be key. Supplier lead times are the highest they’ve been for almost 25 years is putting pressure on pricing and customer service. Forward planning and regular communication with customer and suppliers are a must if merchants and the industry as a whole are to ride out the storm.”

Developed and run by MRA Research, the BMBI – a brand of the Builders Merchants Federation - is a monthly index of builders’ merchant sales, and the most reliable, up-to-date measure of Repair, Maintenance, and Improvement (RMI) activity in the UK.

The index is based on actual sales from GfK’s Builders’ Merchant Point of Sale Tracking Data, which captures value sales out to builders from generalist builders’ merchants, accounting for over 80% of total sales from builders’ merchants throughout Great Britain.