Nationwide slump in merchant performance

According to the latest figures released by the BMF, sales of building materials at builders’ merchants nationwide were down 3.1% year-on-year for the first three months of 2008. Reflecting, “the credit crunch and near stalling of the housing market”.
A comparison with the preceding three-month period, October to December 2007, shows a drop in sales of 2.5%.

However, the drop has not been felt across the board. In actual fact, those merchants which can be classified as solely heavyside or who can break their sales down to include just heavyside products have seen growth of 1.5%, those to whom the same applies with lightside have seen flat sales in the period.

It is mixed stock merchants who have seen the decline, with an average fall in sales of 4.6% i.e. those merchant business selling both heavy and lightside and who cannot separate either sector’s sales figures from their overall sales for the period.

This implies, in a broad sense, that specialist merchants are currently faring better than mixed merchants. There is a geographical variance as well, with merchants in the west midlands and the north west experiencing more dramatic drops of 10.5% and 10.4% respectively. However, across the northern region in general things seemed more buoyant as it saw the greatest increase overall in the country, with a rise of 2.6% compared with last year.

Commenting on the figures BMF Secretary Peter Matthews said, “Even allowing for poor weather and an early Easter these figures confirm a slowdown in builders’ workload reflecting the credit crunch and the current near stalling of the housing market”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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