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Sat June 25 2022

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Merchants ring up winter sales growth of more than 20%

25 Apr Over the three winter months of December to January, sales through builders’ merchant sales in Great Britain rose by 21.4% compared to the year before.

After annual growth of 24.1% in January, builders’ merchant sales in Great Britain increased by 22.9% in February 2022 compared to 2021.

However, just as in January, the strong growth in sales turnover had more to do with rising prices (13.4% price inflation) than selling more product (8.3% volume growth).

While all categories grew their sales turnover in February, Landscaping Products (up 33.7% compared to February 2021) rose the most.

Other categories growing by more than a quarter were Timber and Joinery Products (+25.6%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (+25.2%). Tools (+8.8%) and Workwear & Safetywear (+1.0%) were the smallest risers.

Compared to February 2019, before the pandemic, total merchant value sales were up 22.6% in February 2022. All categories sold more, with overall growth driven by the strength of two categories: Landscaping (+51.1%) and Timber & Joinery Products (+38.3%). Kitchen & Bathrooms (+17.4%), Heavy Building Materials (+16.5%) and Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (+10.4%) were among categories that grew more slowly.

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Month-on-month total merchant sales were 7.5% up in February 2022 compared to January 2022, with the same number of trading days. All bar three categories sold more including Landscaping (+28.6%), Kitchens & Bathrooms (+10.6%) and Heavy Building Materials (+7.7%).

MRA Research chief executive Mike Rigby, producer of the monthly report, said: “February delivered a solid performance for merchants. True, most of the 22.9% headline value growth was driven by price inflation of 13.4%, but in any normal year 8.3% volume growth would be regarded as spectacular. It still is, but we have yet to see the full effects of the uncertainty ushered in by the invasion of Ukraine, a secondary kick to price inflation and shortages that follow from the disruption to supply chains, and the impending energy price increases. It’s impossible to forecast how these factors play out in different markets, but my money is still on this strong demand continuing.”

Builders Merchants Federation chief executive John Newcomb said: “Continued growth is a positive thing to take away for Britain’s builders’ merchants, but with a note of caution around the relative impacts of inflation over volume growth. Current demand is strong and may well continue. However, the rate at which increased energy and raw material costs are driving up prices and the challenges this poses throughout the supply chain down to the end customer remains a concern."

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