The GfK’s Builders Merchants Panel stats, released by the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) in the Builders Merchants Building Index, show sales in Q1 2016 were up by 5.4% on a year ago with total ex-VAT sales of £1.27bn compared to £1.20bn. Q1 sales also rose by 4.6% on Q4 2015.

There was strong growth throughout each of the first three months of the year, with both January and March showing more than 2% growth year-on-year despite one less trading day in each month.

Timber and joinery products were up 4% and represented 21% of total builders merchants’ sales.

“The year-on year and quarter-on-quarter growth evident in builders merchants sales is clearly encouraging,” said BMF managing director John Newcomb.

“It is also at odds with the recent ONS figures that reported construction output down by 1.9%, which have already been challenged by the Construction Products Association.