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Thu October 21 2021

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Builders' merchants continue to revive

21 Sep Latest Builders Merchant Building Index shows July sales down on June but up year-on-year.

Builders’ merchants across Great Britain saw their daily takings in July 2021 surge 25.5% ahead of  July 2020.

With two fewer trading days in July this year, total builders’ merchant sales for the month were up 14.5% year-on-year across the nation.

Leading the categories of products in demand is Timber & Joinery, sales of which were up 42.4% in July year-on-year. Sales of Kitchens & Bathrooms were up +13.9%.

The latest report from the Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) also reveals that other categories to perform well were Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (up 10.4%) and Heavy Building Materials (up 8.9%). Only Tools (-1.5%), Landscaping (-1.6%) and Workwear & Safetywear (-29.5%) sold less than a year before, although the latter two categories saw significant Covid-related growth in July 2020.

Compared to July 2019, a more normal pre-pandemic year, total merchant sales in July 2021 were 13.1% up, with two less trading days this year. Much of this growth was driven by Timber & Joinery product sales up 44.6% and Landscaping sales up 23.4%.

While July’s numbers shows strong year-on-year growth, they were down on June, which had been a bumper month. Month-on-month, total merchant sales were 3.8% lower with one less trading day in July. Activity remains at a high level, however. Kitchens & Bathrooms increased marginally (+1.1%), while Timber & Joinery sales were static (+0.1%). Sales of Heavy Building Materials were down 4.2% in July, compared to June; Plumbing, Heating & Electrical was down 8.1%, Landscaping down 12.9% on the month and Workwear & Safetywear down 17.0%.

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July’s BMBI index was 151.1 with strong performances from Landscaping (204.8) and Timber & Joinery Products (199.8). Seven other categories exceeded 100, including Heavy Building Materials (136.8), Ironmongery (129.2) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (126.5).

John Newcomb, chief executive of the Builders Merchants Federation, said: “The year-on-year figures show the post-Covid recovery continuing strongly, but historically high levels of demand are testing the supply chain and manufacturers’ and shippers’ capacity to the limit. Supply shortages and lengthening lead times in particular product categories are constraining project starts and completions, and the supply chain has sustained a wave of significant product price rises. However, with no sign of an easing in these unprecedented levels of demand, merchants are exceptionally busy and positive while they keep Britain’s builders building.”

The Builders Merchants Federation says that its BMBI, developed and run by MRA Research, is 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, accounting for over 80% of total sales from builders’ merchants throughout Great Britain.

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