Britain’s builders’ merchants sales to builders and contractors bounced back strongly in the three months May to July, with value sales surging 38.9% ahead compared with February to April, as reported in July’s Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) report. Landscaping was significantly ahead of all categories at +130.4% over the period. Timber & Joinery products followed with +44.3%.
Compared with the same three months of 2019 total sales were down 13.4% overall, but July sales were only 1.3% below July 2019 and some categories were ahead. Landscaping (+25.4%), Workwear & Safetywear (+21.3%) and Timber & Joinery Products (+1.5%) were up on the same month last year.
Total value sales was up +8.7% in July compared to June 2020, with all but one category reporting growth. Workwear & Safetywear was top (+34.1%), followed by Kitchens & Bathrooms (+27.3%). While Landscaping reported significant year-on-year growth, sales were down -6.9% in July compared to June.
The monthly BMBI index for Total Builders Merchants was 131.9, with Heavy Building Materials, the largest category, at 125.6. Landscaping was ahead of all categories with an index of 208.2.
Kevin Tolson, Commercial Director Wienerberger UK is BMBI’s Expert for Bricks & Roof Tiles comments: “With a focus on new building programmes in housing, social and community projects plus incentives such as the green deal and the stamp duty holiday, demand returned surprisingly soon to pre-Covid-19 levels by the end of Q2.
“There is also a very encouraging demand for design and technical services. Being able to supply services and technical expertise, not just product, is where manufacturers can differentiate and add real value. While architects, specifiers and planners may be gradually returning to their office-based practices and workplaces, there is still a lack of face-to-face opportunities with customers. Being able to efficiently support those working remotely or in the workplace with improved and increased digital assets, technical data, and guidance is the game changer. The appetite for virtual support has risen and those with the ability to invest and develop their digital services will do well.
“The desire for improved green space and ‘healthy homes’ with improved air quality is another trend. Anyone locked down in their home during very hot weather will be acutely aware of the need to have access to green space for physical exercise and mental wellbeing. Being able to support designers and builders in creating a healthy and energy efficient building envelope is where manufacturers can help change communities for the better.
“A complete recovery may be some way ahead. The benefit of our industry, even during low times, is that we serve a very broad range of customers and market segments. Contraction in one area sees expansion in another. As long as we continue to mobilise quickly and continue to focus on quality products and innovative solutions, we should be in a position to benefit from an economic uplift.”