The start of a third lockdown is likely to have impacted adversely on inside work in January.

The second Plumbing & Heating Merchant Index report, which is based on data from GfK’s Plumbing & Heating Merchant Panel representing over 80% of the market by value, shows that specialist plumbing & heating merchants’ sales in January were down 5.0% on January 2020.

The start of a third lockdown is likely to have impacted adversely on inside work in January. Also contributing to the decline were two less trading days this year. The average sales a day figure, which takes this into account, shows sales were 4.5% higher than in January last year.

Month-on-month sales were positive with sales up 18.5% in January compared with December 2020. This was helped by three more trading days in January, but after adjusting for trading days, sales were still higher (+0.7%).

January’s PHMI Index, which contrasts sales with the base period of January to December 2019, was 99.4.

The new report, launched last month, charts the sales performance of specialist plumbing & heating merchants from month to month. The new Plumbing & Heating Merchant Index (PHMI) report is the first to analyse point of sales data collated from a range of specialist plumbing & heating merchants with combined annual sales of £3bn.

The report also shows the impact of the pandemic on specialist plumbing & heating merchants, and charts the sector’s gradual recovery since the fall caused by the first lockdown in the Spring.

MRA Research produces the report, which provides reliable data and a platform and voice for the industry, as well as for leading plumbing & heating brand, on a monthly basis. There is no overlap or double counting between PHMI and the Builders Merchants Building Index sales data.

Tom Rigby, Commercial Manager at MRA Research, which also produces the BMBI reports, said: “PHMI trend data tracks what is happening in the specialist plumbing & heating merchants market month by month, and this new report gives the industry access to far more accurate insights than has previously been available.

“Unlike data from sources based on relatively small samples or estimates, or sales from suppliers to the supply chain, this up-to-date data is based on actual sales from specialist plumbing & heating merchants. It is, in effect, the market.”

To download the latest report, or learn more about becoming an Expert, speaking on behalf of your market, visit