Buildingtalk.com Blog – Merchants’ sales break records in July

Total builders’ merchant value sales to builders and contractors were up 8.3% in July compared with July 2017, helped by one more trading day this year. Average sales a day (which mitigate for trading day differences) were 3.3% higher.

Five categories did better, with Timber & Joinery Products (+12.7%) the top performer and Landscaping (+11.2%) close behind. Three categories achieved their highest monthly sales in the four years BMBI data has been compiled: Heavy Building Materials, Timber & Joinery Products and Decorating.

Overall sales in July were 1.1% higher than in June. However with one more trading day this month, average sales a day were 3.5% lower. The first seven months of 2018 were 4.6% ahead of the same period in 2017, with one additional trading day this year. Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (+10.4%) did best. The rolling 12 months August 2017 to July 2018 were 5.0% above the same period a year earlier. Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (+9.3%) was strongest and all categories sold more.

Mike Beard, Merchant Development Director Encon Insulation and BMBI’s Expert for Insulation Products – Distribution, comments: “Insulation sectors are experiencing strong sales although it is unclear how much of this is catch-up from the poor performance in the first quarter due to the weather.

“The biggest concern in the sector is s a number of key areas, most importantly in both glass and rock mineral wool. This supply issue is likely to worsen and might well encompass other products as the year continues. Inevitably this will fuel price inflation, putting more strain on the supply chain.

“We are seeing stronger support for specifications, in light of recent obvious events, which is a good thing for the supply chain as quality and added value helps grow the market. Another boost has been that the weather over the last twelve months has really shown the benefit of good insulation standards: keeping the warm air inside in the winter and allowing the opposite in the summer!

“One concern to a possible Brexit impact is the change to imported building materials and their product standards. Currently Industry leaders and trade bodies are lobbying the EU to keep the UK as a full member of the European Standards Organisations. Such standards could apply to the products, their manufacture and their in-situ performance. The relationship between CE-marked products and those that are BBA approved has not been clarified post-Brexit.

“Despite these supply issues and other concerns for the future, it’s worth noting finally that house building has risen at the fastest rate since 2015!”

BMBI Experts speak exclusively for their markets, explaining trends, issues and opportunities. To download the latest report, visit www.bmbi.co.uk/the-index/.

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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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