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Merchant sales volumes down 11.5% in October

23 Jan The latest Builders Merchant Building Index report shows sales volumes were down 11.5% in October 2023, year-on-year.

Builders merchants’ takings were down 4.0% in October 2023 compared to the same month in 2022, but with prices 8.4% higher than a year before, the amount of product sold was down 11.5%.

However, there was one more trading day in October 2023, meaning that like-for-like sales were 8.4% lower.

Despite the reduction in takings, eight of the 12 product categories sold more in October 2023 compared to October 2022, including Decorating (+10.8%), Workwear & Safetywear (+10.4%), Ironmongery (+7.0%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (+4.7%). However, Landscaping was down 6.4% and Timber & Joinery Products was down 9.7%.

Month-on-month, takings were 2.2% higher in October compared to September 2023, but this was explained by the 2.3% increase in prices. Volume sales were flat.

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Total merchant sales in the year to date were -4.8% down on the same period (January to October) the year before. Volume sales were -13.9% lower, and prices rose +10.6%. With two more trading days this period, like-for-like sales were -5.7% lower. Nine of the twelve categories sold more with Renewables & Water Saving (+35.5%) growing the most, followed by Decorating (+9.7%), Workwear & Safetywear and Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (+6.0%). The three largest categories - Heavy Building Materials (-2.4%), Landscaping (-12.5%) and Timber & Joinery Products (-15.0%) – all sold less.

The Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report now tracks point of sale data at 92% of builders’ merchant across Great Britain, with Huws Gray, JT Dove and CMO Stores recently joining the panel.

According to Builders Merchants Federation chief executive John Newcomb, this makes it “the closest measure there is of Britain’s small builder and trades market, and the best proxy we have to the important residential RMI (repair, maintenance and improvement) market. BMBI is as accurate a measure of the market as it’s possible to get.”

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