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Fri July 19 2024

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Extra days lift merchants’ April takings

4 Jul The latest Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report shows sales up in April 2024, compared to April 2023, but only because there were more trading days this year.

Builders’ merchants’ takings were up 3.9% in April, year-on-year, but down 11.0% on a like-for-like (per day) basis.

Sales volumes increased 4.7% year-on-year and prices were down by 0.8%.

Categories that grew strongly included workwear & safetywear (up nearly 30%), decorating (14%) and plumbing/heating & electrical (13%). The three largest categories grew more slowly, with heavy building materials up 1.4%, timber & joinery products also just 1.4%) and landscaping  by 3.2%.

Month-on-month, takings in April were 5.0% up on March and sales volumes increased by 7.4%; prices were down 2.3%. With one more trading day in April, like-for-like takings were flat.

Total merchant sales revenue in the 12 months from May 2023 to April 2024 were 4.7% lower than the same period the year before (May 2022 to April 2023). Volumes slumped 9.6% and prices rose 5.4%. With four extra trading days in the most recent 12-month period, like-for-like takings were down 6.3%.

Mike Rigby, managing director of MRA Research, which produces the BMBI report, said: “Heavy rainfall and strong winds again disrupted construction output, with the latest ONS data reporting all bar two sectors contracting in April. Private new housing (-4.4%) and private repair and maintenance (-2.5%) were the biggest losers year-on-year.

“On the face of it, the forecasts for the economic headwinds which are impacting new building works and RMI projects aren’t looking much better. Interest rates are holding firm at 5.25% and any chance of a cut is likely to be at least August. Inflation has finally dropped to +2.3% yet prices are still increasing, and some goods are increasing more than others which is squeezing many household budgets.”

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