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April storms cloud product sales

15 May 12 The impact on the construction industry of last month’s record rainfall is starting to become apparent.

Business are beginning to report that after good start to the year, with a milder winter than last year, April’s downpours hampered trading at the consumer end of the market.

The country’s leading builders’ merchant group, Travis Perkins, yesterday said: “After a good first quarter, record levels of rainfall contributed to a weaker performance in April and the early part of May where activity levels at sites continue to be impacted by the very wet weather.”

Today it is the turn of brick and block producer Marshalls to reveal the impact of the rain.

In an interim management statement it said: “After a satisfactory first quarter, sales did not show their usual post Easter uplift.  Working conditions in April were disappointing, hampering sales and obscuring underlying market trends.”

According to the Met Office, there was 138mm of rain in April, compared with just 14mm in April 2011 and 27mm in 2010.

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“The rainfall in April has been an important factor in the reduction in sales of £5m (equivalent to 3 days' installations) in the month compared with last year,” Marshall said.

Both Marshalls and Travis Perkin reported that it was consumer spending rather than trade spending that was down.

At Travis Perkins, like for like consumer spending in its stores for the nine weeks to 30 April was down 5.6%.

Marshalls' revenue for the four months ended 30 April 2012 of £106m was 3% lower than last year’s £109m but still up on 2010’s £98m. Sales to the public sector and commercial end market, representing 64% of total revenue, were flat.  Sales to the domestic end market were down 8%. 

However, on the positive side, this has generated pent up demand. Marshalls’ survey of domestic installers at the end of April 2012 revealed a higher backlog of demand with order books of 7.5 weeks (2011: 7.1 weeks) up from 6.3 weeks at the end of February 2012 (2011: 7.2 weeks). 

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