Positive momentum for merchants' sales

BMBI report

Figures in the latest Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) released by the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) confirm that sales at UK builders’ merchants remained strong in April, following record-breaking results in March. Rather than comparing April 2021 with April 2020, when many merchants and construction sites were temporarily closed – total sales in April 2021 were +22.1% higher than in April 2019 (pre-Covid), with 11 of the 12 product categories recording higher sales.

Landscaping saw the highest increase, with sales values up by +63.3% and Timber & Joinery was +37.2%. Other product categories saw slower growth, with the largest category, Heavy Building Materials, up by +13.8%, and Plumbing, Heating & Electrical up by +2.3%. Kitchens & Bathrooms was the only category to sell less in April 2021 than in April 2019, with -1.3%.

John Newcomb, CEO of the BMF, said: “Coming off the back of a particularly strong March, the BMBI April figures confirm the continuing high demand for building products across the board, and for timber in particular.

“We know builders’ merchants are doing their utmost to manage demand and supply but forward planning and communication throughout the supply chain is essential. The more information they have from their customers regarding requirements going forward, the better able merchants will be to match this to available stock and provide greater certainty on lead times.”

Emile van der Ryst, Senior Client Insight Manager (Trade), at GfK Retail & Technology UK, said: “April has been another exceptional month and the conversations I’ve had with some of the builders’ merchants lead me to believe this strong market performance will continue for a while longer. Key to this will be product availability of certain areas, with cement, steel and timber immediately coming to mind. If availability can be effectively managed this year it will more than have made up for all last year’s challenges.”