Sales figures collated by GfK for the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) show sales April to June sales were up both on the previous quarter and on the same quarter of 2015.
The second quarter report covers the three months leading up to the Brexit vote but despite reports of pre-referendum jitters, builders’ merchants’ turnover remained robust. Total merchant sales in Q2 were up by 6.2% on the same period last year with total ex-Vat sales of £1.44bn compared to £1.36bn in 2015. This was, however, assisted by two additional trading days in the 2016 quarter.
Year-on-year sales growth was particularly strong in Ironmongery (+7.8%), Landscaping (+7.7%), Heavy Building Materials (6.5%) and Plumbing & Heating and Electrical (+6.4%). Five other categories grew more slowly but still exceeded the same period last year. Only the volatile category of Renewables and Water Saving saw sales fall.
Quarter-on-quarter, total Q2 sales were 13.7% ahead of Q1, driven by Landscaping in its peak season (+58.1%) and Heavy Building Materials (+14.8%), the latter being the largest single category accounting for almost 45% of all builders merchant sales by value.
The Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) for Q2 2016 was 113.6, its highest level over the past four quarters.
BMF managing director John Newcomb said: “Economic and political uncertainty in the run-up to the EU referendum was expected to cause a slow-down in the construction sector. However, sales data from the Builders Merchants Panel is telling a different, and far more positive, story.
“That said, the BMBI report includes various macro indicators supplied by GfK including a dramatic post-Brexit 11 point drop in consumer confidence in July. But with the Bank of England reacting quickly on borrowing rates, and the continuing need for housing this may be no more than a blip. The pattern will become clearer in the autumn when we have the Q3 figures to hand, but in the meantime we remain confident that the market will continue to perform strongly.”