April sales collapse under COVID-19 lockdown

This month’s BMBI report is unlike any other. The Government enforced COVID-19 lockdown came late in March, so had a limited impact last month. However, April took the full force, with many trades not working and most merchants temporarily closing branches or providing a restricted service only for essential sectors or emergencies. As a result, this report contains unprecedented figures.

Year-on-year

Total Builders Merchants value sales in April were down 76.3% compared with April 2019. All categories saw heavy falls, with Workwear & Safetywear least affected (-60.2%), and Tools (-90.0%) hardest hit. Kitchens & Bathrooms (-86.8%) and Decorating (-81.6%) were also particularly weak.

Month-on-month

Compared with March, total merchant value sales in April dropped -72.1%, with two less trading days. All categories were severely hit with Services (-59.0%) and Landscaping (-64.5%) the least affected. Tools (-87.4%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (-85.3%) were weakest. Average sales a day, which removes trading day differences, were 69.3% lower overall than in March.

Index

April’s BMBI index was 29.0 and all categories were well down.

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Launched in 2015, the award winning monthly Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report is the only reliable measure of repair, maintenance & improvement (RMI) activity in the UK. Filling an important gap, it can be widely used in construction, and by economists, Government, national media, commentators and influencers outside the industry.

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