BMBI report reveals drop in builders’ merchant volume sales in April

24 June 2022

The latest Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report reveals that builders’ merchants’ value sales fell 0.9% in April 2022 compared to the same month in 2021, the first decline since January 2021.

Price inflation of +17.0% helped to mitigate April’s -15.3% drop in volume sales compared to April 2021. 

The news confirms anecdotal reports from builders merchants over the last couple of months that volume sales at branches had eased.

Six categories sold more, with Kitchens & Bathrooms performing best (+15.8%). Seven categories did better than merchants overall, including Heavy Building Materials (+2.2%) and Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (+6.7%). Landscaping (-14.1%) was the weakest.

Compared to April 2019, a pre-pandemic year, total merchant value sales were 21.0% higher. All categories sold more driven by price inflation (+27.5%) rather than volume (-5.1%). Landscaping (+40.3%) and Timber & Joinery Products (+34.1%) performed best. Tools (+6.5%), Ironmongery (+5.1%) and Decorating (+4.5%) were among the categories which grew more slowly. 

Month-on-month total merchant sales were 10.5% down in April 2022 compared to March 2022, with four less trading days. All bar one categories sold less, with the exception of Landscaping (+0.4%) which was flat.

“April again showed the impact of sudden rampant price inflation over volume sales, and for the first time, inflation was not able to entirely offset the reduction in volume,” said Mike Rigby, CEO of MRA Research which produces the report.

“This is the first time since January 2021 that year-on-year volume sales have been down. 

“Last month I said my money was still on strong demand continuing, and I’m sticking with that in the long term. The housing shortage has not gone away and there is massive latent demand for new and improved housing. 

“But in private housing RMI two markets have been developing. Older homeowners with no mortgage or nearly mortgage free have seen the value of their homes grow and their savings in their bank grow. 

“These ‘Haves’ have a lot of money to spend, and their spending on the home has been largely unaffected by the cost of living crisis triggered by the after effects of Covid, and the knock on effects of the war in Ukraine. They are the Bank of Mum and Dad. 

“Many homeowners under 45 however, the ‘Have Nots’, have yet to benefit from the growth in value of their homes. Typically, they have significant outgoings and much less in the bank. They are already affected by rising energy bills and general inflation and many are cutting back, cancelling or delaying non critical improvements until we come through the other side.”