Britain’s builders’ merchants sales figures bounced back strongly in the three months May to July, surging 38.9% ahead compared with the February to April period.
Compared with the same three months of 2019, sales were down 13.4% overall, but according to the Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) report for July, sales were only 1.3% below July 2019 and some categories were ahead. Landscaping (+25.4%), Workwear & Safetywear (+21.3%) and Timber & Joinery Products (+1.5%) were up on the same month last year.
“Released this week, these sales figures demonstrate the resilience and strength of a V-shaped recovery in the sector,” says Mike Rigby, CEO of MRA Research, which produces the BMBI reports.
“Builders’ merchants sell to a variety of markets, including new build, but their customers - general builders, developers, and other trades - are the backbone of the housing RMI market.
“The ONS provisional estimates for the same three months, May to July, are seemingly at odds with these figures, putting overall construction down 10.6%, with RMI falling 12.4% and private housing RMI dropping by 17.9%.
“But a note of caution: we’re not comparing apples with apples”, continues Rigby. “ONS numbers are provisional estimates based on a sample survey, and as more information comes in the estimates are revised.
“However, GfK’s Builders’ Merchant Point of Sale Tracking Data, on which the Builders Merchant Building Index is based, is different. It’s not a sample survey and it’s much more focused. It doesn’t include every element of housing RMI, but it includes the bulk of it and it’s a very good proxy for repair, maintenance, and improvement.
“The data is actual value sales out to builders from generalist builders’ merchants, accounting for over 80% of total sales from builders merchants throughout Great Britain. It’s also validated before publishing, so it doesn’t get revised.”
Developed and run by MRA Research, the BMBI – a brand of the Builders Merchant Federation - is a monthly index of builders’ merchant sales, and the most reliable, up-to-date measure of Repair, Maintenance, and Improvement (RMI) activity in the UK. BMBI monthly reports track what is happening in the market, and an in-depth review, including Expert comments, appears every quarter, all of which can be found on the magazine edition of BMN.
BMBI has become an effective platform for building recognition of the builders’ merchant sector supply chain, explaining markets and building brands. The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) includes a summary and link to BMBI monthly reports in its authoritative Monthly Construction Update alongside the ONS, Bank of England and other key resources.