Total builders’ merchants sales in Q2 2021 increased by an astonishing +96.0% over Q2 2020.

The latest report from the BMF’s Builders Merchants Building Index confirms Q2 2021 as the best performing quarter on record for sales through GB builders’ merchants.

Total builders’ merchants sales in Q2 2021 increased by an astonishing +96.0% over Q2 2020. While this reflects the severe adverse impact of the initial Covid lockdown, looking further back the BMBI figures show Q2 2021 merchant sales increasing by +20.3% against Q2 2019. All categories sold more in Q2 2021 compared with the same period in both of last two years.

Confirming the strength of the market, 2021 quarter on quarter sales also showed significant growth. Sales in Q2 2021 were 24.1% higher than in Q1, with two less trading days in Q2.  Average sales a day in Q2 were 28.1% higher than in Q1.

Two of the strongest performers in Q2 2021 were the weakest in Q2 2020. Tools increased by +151.4% and Kitchens & Bathrooms by +141.3%. In addition, four categories had their best-ever quarterly sales since the BMBI started in July 2014 – Timber & Joinery Products (+134.6%), Ironmongery (+105.9%), Heavy Building Materials (+81.4%) and Landscaping (+71.1%).

Comparing Q2 2021 with the same quarter two years ago, it is clear that the two strongest performers, Landscaping (+48.3%) and Timber & Joinery Products (+41.3%), drove the overall increase. Sales increases were recorded in all categories, with the largest product category, Heavy Building Materials, up by +11.8%. Other categories recorded smaller increases, including Plumbing Heating & Electrical (+3.2%), Decorating (+1.7%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (+1.5%).

Ten of the 12 product categories sold more in Q2 than Q1. Once again Landscaping (+67.8%) was strongest, followed by Timber & Joinery Products (+29.3%) and Heavy Building Materials (+20.5%), with Decorating (+11%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (+8.6%) among the others showing growth. Only Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (-3.5%) and Workwear & Safetywear (-11.4%) sold less.

highlights of the BMBI report

Similarly, sales through specialist plumbing and heating merchants during the second quarter of the year showed the continued market recovery following the adverse impact of the initial Covid lockdown last year.

Figures released in the Builders Merchants Federation’s (BMF) Plumbing & Heating Merchant Index (PHMI) show sales of plumbing and heating products during Q2 2021 were 93.5% higher than in the same three months last year, the trading period worst affected by the pandemic.

Sales in Q2 2021 were also higher than during the same period two years ago, before the pandemic, with the PHMI showing a 4% increase over Q2 2019.

Quarter on quarter sales decreased, though this may reflect annual trading patterns within the sector.  Sales in Q2 2021 were -6.7% lower than in Q1 2021, albeit with two more trading days in the first quarter. Taking extra days out of the equation shows that Q2 average sales a day were down by -3.7% on Q1.

Overall, year to date figures for first six months of 2021 were +36.3% higher than the same period in 2020 and +3.8% higher than 2019.

The data for the PHMI is taken solely from P&H specialists, including City Plumbing Supplies, Graham, James Hargreaves Plumbing Deport, PTS and Wolseley, who form part of GfK’s Plumbing & Heating Merchants Panel, and there is no overlap or double counting between the PHMI and the BMF’s established Builders Merchants Building Index which analyses sales at generalist merchants.

highlights of the PHMI report

John Newcomb, CEO of the Builders Merchants Federation, said: “This quarter’s results reflect both the strength of the current market and the vital role of builders' merchants in the supply chain. With high global demand and UK workloads continuing at extremely high levels, merchants have done a fantastic job managing product demand and supply. The challenges faced in the first half of the year are likely to continue and the building materials supply chain will be working closely with customers to keep projects on track.”

Emile van der Ryst, Senior Client Insight Manager – Trade at GfK, added: “At the end of Q2 2020 the builders' merchants sector was coming to terms with the initial fallout of the global pandemic and had just started to reopen. Fast forward 12 months and last year’s ‘lost’ quarter has been replaced by the best performing quarter on record. The well documented surge in house building and buying has played a key role, while the stock shortages experienced across the UK hasn’t slowed down market performance. The second half of the year is difficult to predict but will be fascinating to track.”