Best sales month despite predictions of a tighter market
Total Builders Merchants value sales to roofers, builders and contractors in October 2018 were the highest of any month since the start of BMBI data in July 2014, helped by October having 22 trading days (most months have 20-22 trading days). Sales were up 6.8% compared with October 2017.
Eleven of the twelve categories sold more, led by Timber & Joinery Products (+10.3%) which also had its best-ever month. Although growing more slowly, Heavy Building Materials (+5.3%), Tools (+3.4%) and Ironmongery (+2.3%) also had their highest month.
Overall October sales were 11.4% higher than September, helped by two additional trading days. Plumbing Heating & Electrical (+17.2%), Workwear & Safetywear (14.9%) and Heavy Building Materials (12.4%) were among eight categories that did better and all categories sold more. Average sales a day for October were 1.3% higher than September. Ten of the twelve categories sold more but seasonal category Landscaping (-6.7%) was one of only two that sold less.
The ten months January to October 2018 were 4.3% ahead of the same period in 2017. Plumbing Heating & Electrical was strongest (+8.3%) with Timber & Joinery Products (+7.6%) close behind.
October’s BMBI index was 131.8, with one additional trading day. Plumbing Heating & Electrical was top (141.1). The average sales a day index for October was 124.3.
Steve Halford, Group Managing Director The Crystal Group and BMBI’s Expert for PVC-U Windows & Doors, comments: “After decades when they were unable to sell bespoke PVC-U windows and doors competitively, builders’ merchants discovered that with the right package they could sell very successfully. Since then, growth has been electric. As the sector market leader, our own numbers show no sign of slowing.
“Q3 enquiry levels were 30% up year-on-year, 8.2% up on Q2 2018. Orders were 35% up year-on-year, and 9% up on Q2. There’s been a big interest from merchants in the tools that help them grow eg showroom and display products, and requests for advice on online configuration and design are up strongly. Average hits a day from merchants on ‘use of configurator’ are up 42% year-on-year. Developers seeking ‘price from plans’ are up 28%. Requests for supply and fit services are rising.
“Throughout the supply chain, buyer behaviour is changing. Day to day, the pace of change isn’t obvious, but compared with five years ago it’s dramatic. Most builders and installers have a smartphone. Many run their business from it. But the more we personally buy from companies like Amazon that offer almost instant availability, the more we personally want it. Asked do we really need it now, we may say no. But asked would we like it now, we say yes. We also want it easy, and the slicker and quicker the better. Once we’ve taken the decision to buy, we want it now! The days when we were happy waiting weeks are over”.
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