Builders merchants see September sales surge

Builders’ merchants saw sales surge in September, up 8.3% compared with September 2019, according to the latest Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) report.

Q3 2020 sales also increased, compared to the same period last year and were significantly up on Q2 2020 (+63.2%) when many merchants were closed by the national lockdown. Kitchens & Bathrooms was the sector with the strongest quarter-on-quarter recovery (+131%), but Q3 sales were down 7.1% year-on-year.

merchant stock warehouse
Merchant sales rose strongly in September

Year-on-year, landscaping Q3 sales are 24.2% up,  Workwear & Safetywear, rose 8% compared to Q3 last year, thanks to a continued focus on PPE, while Timber & Joinery was up 3.5% over the same period.

Although year-to-date sales were lower than in 2019 due to the impact of Covid-19 closures, overall sales had recovered strongly by September. The rate of recovery however, varied between product sectors. While two sectors – landscaping materials (+1.5%) and Workwear & Safetywear (+1.2%) – are ahead of January to September 2019, Kitchens & Bathrooms have some way to go, and Heavy Building Materials is 16.1% behind the same period last year.

Mike Rigby CEO of MRA Research, which produces the BMBI reports, says: “Key product sectors related to home and garden improvement have performed particularly strongly in Q3 indicating that people spending more money on their houses and gardens was not just a lockdown phenomenon but a trend that is here to stay.

“Homeowners have accepted that the ‘new normal’ will involve spending a lot more time at home for the foreseeable future, and they are adapting their homes for homeworking. Many also have more money to spend on getting someone in to do the work properly, benefiting builders’ merchants. Interestingly this trend is mirrored in America, where the giant Home Depot and Lowe’s have seen significant Q3 sales growth for similar reasons. With many people working remotely from home, DIY and paid-for home renovations are soaring as consumers spend on changing their homes to suit the way they live now.

“Merchants are expected to remain open for business throughout the second wave of Covid-19 with RMI work levels forecast to remain high.”.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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