The latest figures from the Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) show that generalist merchants generated annual revenues in excess of £5.44bn with sales value growth of 5.2% on 2015.
Total merchant sales in the BMBI report for Q4 2016 were up 5.5% on the same period in 2015. With the mild autumn extending the season for external works, sales of landscaping products were up 10.3% in the fourth quarter and sales of heavy building materials were up by 7.1% compared to a year before. Growth in heavy building materials was particularly driven by roofing products, lintels and plasterboards.
Two further categories outperformed the total market in Q4. Sales of kitchens and bathrooms increased by 5.9% year on year and ironmongery rose by 5.6%.
The fourth quarter had five fewer trading days than the third quarter, so in most cases quarter-on-quarter sales were down. However, there were two exceptions: plumbing, heating & electrical sales were up 8%; workwear and safetywear rose by 6.1%.
Fourth quarter growth continued into the new year, with January 2017 sales 21.% higher than January 2016, when adjusted for the disparity in trading days. Again, this was attributed to mild seasonal weather driving sales of landscaping products (up 8.8%) and heavy building materials (up 7.7%).
The sales statistics are gathered for the Builders Merchants Federation by GfK using point of sale tracking data that represents more than 80% of the value of the builders’ merchant market.