The latest figures from the Plumbing & Heating Merchant Index (PHMI) report show total value sales for April 2022 through specialist plumbing and heating merchants down - 5.8% on April 2021.

Volume sales dropped -13.3% mitigated to some extent by +8.6% price inflation.

Compared to April 2019, a more normal pre-Covid year, total value sales for April 2022 were 1.0% lower, with once less trading day in the current period.

Month-on-month sales data shows that April sales were down 19.9% on March 2022, with four less trading days. Like for like sales were 3.0% lower.

Year to date value sales in the period January-April 2022 were 1.0% higher than the same period in 2021, with one less trading day.

Plumbing & Heating merchants’ sales in the last 12 months (May 2021 to April 2022) were 9.8% up on the previous 12-months (May 2020 to April 2021) with two less trading days.

Mike Rigby, CEO of MRA Research, which produces the report comments: “Significant price inflation continues to skew value sales figures, but this month sees the first time that the impact of price inflation isn’t enough to offset the loss in volume.

“Inflation varies throughout the economy by market sector and category, but although it is not expecting inflation to embed and become a permanent factor in the economy, the Bank of England is warning that general inflation could reach 11% before the end of the year.

“We’re at the start of a cost of living crisis, as the media calls it, driven by rising energy and food prices initially, but the secondary effects will affect most things. Inflation will hit spending, but as fuel bills rise, we can expect to see much more interest in energy efficient products and systems.

“Property owners looking to replace heating systems will look closer at the efficiency of replacement products and systems, so merchants who promote it strongly can expect more interest and opportunities in energy efficiency than before.”