UK builders’ merchant sales in May 2021 were not as strong as the heights seen in March and April, but were ahead not just of May 2020 (obviously) but also May 2019 (a more useful comparator).
Total Merchants value sales were up 79.6% in May 2021 compared to May 2020 but as the country was still in full lockdown in May last year, significant increases are expected. However, total sales were up 7.9% compared to May 2019, with two fewer trading days; average sales a day were 19.3% higher.
Comparisons with May 2019 show that some product categories are still waiting to hit their pre-pandemic levels. Just three of the 12 categories sold more in May 2021 than in May 2019, led by Timber & Joinery Products (+28.1%) and Landscaping (+26.5%).
Month-on-month, May 2021 were down 6.1% on April, with one fewer trading day.
Mike Rigby, chief executive of MRA Research, which produces the statistics report for the Builders Merchant Federation (BMF), said: “Year-on-year sales are looking strong and they will surely continue to gather momentum as the remaining restrictions are lifted and more inside trades get back to work. To ensure we continue on a growth trajectory, balancing supply and demand will be key. Supplier lead times are the highest they’ve been for almost 25 years is putting pressure on pricing and customer service. Forward planning and regular communication with customer and suppliers is a must if merchants and the industry as a whole are to ride out the storm.”