blog: Builders’ Merchants’ sales resilient in January

The latest Builders Merchants Building Index (BMBI) report, published in March, shows value sales to builders, roofers and contractors in January were 3.7% lower than in January 2020, as the country went into lockdown for the third time.

There was, however, a two day difference in trading days. The average sales a day figures, which takes this into account, show sales were relatively positive at 5.9% above January 2020.

BMBI: Year-on-year

Three categories had higher sales in January this year: Timber & Joinery Products (+7.7%), Landscaping (+3.7%) and Workwear & Safetywear (+2.4%).

However, indoor trades have been negatively impacted by a third lockdown, including Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (-11.9%), Kitchens & Bathrooms (-13.5%) and Decorating (-17.2%).

BMBI: Builders’ Merchants’ sales resilient in January | Buildingtalk | Construction news and building products for specifiers

BMBI: Last three months

Total sales in the three months to January 2021 were 4.4% higher than in the same period a year previously. Once again, Timber & Joinery Products and Landscaping were the top performing categories.

BMBI: Month-on-month

Total Merchants’ January sales were 20.6% higher than in December, helped by three more trading days. Workwear & Safetywear (+39.1%) did best, with Timber & Joinery Products and Heavy Building Materials also performing well.

BMBI: Builders’ Merchants’ sales resilient in January | Buildingtalk | Construction news and building products for specifiers

Rolling 12 months

Merchants’ sales over the 12 months to January 2021 show that total sales were 10.8% lower than in the previous 12 months. Sales in most categories remain lower than before the pandemic, with Landscaping (+5.7%) the only category to show an increase.


January’s BMBI index was 100.7, with Workwear & Safetywear the strongest at 122.3, followed by Timber & Joinery Products (120.0).

Paul Roughan, Trade Merchants Sales Director Dulux Trade and BMBI’s Expert for Paint, commented: “With Brexit, quite rightly, many merchants were seeking clarity on anticipated supply challenges, comfort on continuity of supply, and the options to stockpile, the latter putting more pressure on an already squeezed supply chain.

“Thankfully, we got a deal and our own Brexit team had taken the appropriate steps to have processes in place to help us with classification, labelling, import and export declarations, and REACH regulations amongst other things.

“For the full year, Trade paint exited 2020 down 2% year-on-year, with Retail paint growing in excess of 20% year-on-year. Covid-19 has significantly shifted the dynamics of both trade and retail with data suggesting consumers purchased 29 million litres more in 2020 than 2019.

“For the first time in a number of years, the retail market was bigger in volume than Trade. That’s probably not a surprise as Trade Merchants were mostly shut in the early part of lockdown one, and consumers wanted to freshen their homes and their new home working environments.

“We conducted a small survey of appliers in December and asked them how far out their order book was. Fifty percent had an order book further out than two months, 23% had 1-2 months of work booked, but 27% had less than one month or no work at all. It really is an unknown as to how the market will perform in 2021.

“We do know that challenges on supply will continue at least in the short term. Packaging suppliers are facing their own challenges as their supply chain is squeezed, and we monitor closely raw material supply as COVID, and Brexit continue to pose challenges,” he continued.

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