The latest sales figures from GfK’s Builders Merchants Panel, released on 27 November by the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF), show sales in Q3 2015 through the UK’s general builders’ merchants were up on both the last quarter and the same quarter in 2014.

Sales in Q3 2015 were 2.8% ahead of the same period last year, and 1.7% up on Q2 2015. It was the strongest quarter since GfK started tracking builders’ merchants. Total sales ex-VAT for Q3 2015 were £1.38bn.

Most sectors performed strongly in Q3 2015 compared to the same quarter last year. Some smaller sectors performed very strongly: plumbing, heating and electrical, up 10.4%, workwear and safetywear, up 9.6% and services up 7.4%. In contrast renewables and water management was down -16.7%.

Sales dipped in August but bounced back 9.7% in September. Interestingly, when taking into account two fewer trading days in August, average sales value per trading day in September was £21.22m, -0.2% lower than August.

Commenting on the figures, John Newcomb, managing director of the BMF, said: “The Builders Merchants Panel has now returned 15 months of data, enabling us to make year-on-year quarterly comparisons for the first time. Most sectors have performed strongly in the last quarter. However, renewables and water management stands out from other sectors with a pronounced drop in sales. It appears to have suffered since the government announced that Zero Carbon Standard for new homes would be discontinued.”

Additional Insight from GfK paints a bright future for builders’ merchants. Business confidence is falling, but consumer confidence is at its highest since 2000. Homeowners have a greater intention to build and improve their homes, and property transactions have returned to pre-recession levels. On top of this, the Chancellor has announced the “biggest housebuilding programme since the 1970s.”

GfK’s updated forecast of Builders Merchants Panel sales ex-VAT for 2015 is £5.15bn.

Data from the Builders Merchants Panel is published monthly in the Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) together with the BMF’s own Sales Indicators; the latter compiles sales turnover information from a representative sample of merchant member companies.