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Fri December 08 2023

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Builders' merchants endure second quarter of decline

27 Nov 19 UK builders’ merchants have now seen their sales drop for two consecutive quarters in 2019.

Figures for the third quarter (Q3) of 2019 in the Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) show merchants’ sales for Q3 2019 were down -0.8% by value over the same period in 2018, despite one more trading day this year. 

On a per day basis, sales were down 2.3% for the July-September period, year-on-year.

The fall was mostly driven by a 4.7% decline in Timber & Joinery, the second largest category.

The largest category, Heavy Building Materials, was down by 0.4% in value, with a decline in Bricks balanced against growth in Cement/Aggregate, Plasters & Plasterboards and Insulation. 

 Some categories did show value growth during Q3, notably Plumbing, Heating & Electrical which was up by +2.4% from Q3 2018, while Kitchens & Bathrooms grew by +3.2%, and Landscaping by +1.3%.

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Despite lowing sales in both Q2 and Q3, year-to-date sales for the first nine months continue to be up 1.1% on 2018.

The core categories of Heavy Building Materials and Timber & Joinery show year to date growth of 1.3% and 0.3% respectively, while Landscaping increased by 4.6% from 2018.

 The BMBI uses GfK’s point of sale tracking data drawn from over 80% of builders’ merchants’ sales throughout the country.

Builders Merchants Federation chief executive John Newcomb said:  “The results highlight marked differences between heavy side and light side product sales in Q3, suggesting buildings in progress are being finished, but with fewer new starts. Our industry is directly affected by political, economic and actual climate, and we have seen adverse conditions in all three for some time.  With the final quarter of this year dominated by a general election, I suspect we will have to wait until 2020 to see any evidence of an upturn.”

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