blog – Merchants’ sales fall against an uncertain Brexit

After a strong start to the year, growing uncertainty around Brexit has led to a marked slowdown in merchants’ sales.

Total Builders Merchants value sales to builders and contractors in August 2019 were down -5.6% compared with the same period in 2018, on one less trading day. When adjusted for trading days, the decline was -1.1% over the same period.

Sectors that recorded positive year-on-year growth when adjusted for trading days included Kitchens & Bathrooms (+3.0%) and Plumbing, Heating & Electrical (+2.3%). However, sales fell over the period in some key sectors, including Timber & Joinery (-5.2%) and Heavy Building Materials (-0.8%).

Compared with July 2019, Total Builders Merchants value sales were down -11.4% in August. However, when adjusted for the two-day trading difference, the decline was -2.9%. All product categories saw sales decrease in August with Landscaping (-9.5%), Heavy Building Materials (-3.0%) and Timber & Joinery (-2.1%) affected the most.

Sales in the rolling 12 months September 2018 to August 2019 were up +1.6% on the same period last year. Year-to-date sales (January to August) also remained positive at +1.2% compared to January to August 2018.

August’s BMBI index was 117.7, with Landscaping the highest category at 136.7.

Paul Roughan, Trade Merchants Sales Director Dulux Trade and BMBI’s Expert for Paint, comments: “We’re all having to prepare for potential risks to supply after we leave the EU. The potential for delays to deliveries to the UK is one of the main risks so it’s important to work closely with suppliers to ensure they have continuity of supply throughout the second half of the year.

“The performance of the premium emulsion category, which includes durable and scrubbable emulsions rather than standard vinyls and contract emulsions, is strong and represents the fastest growing decorative paints category. This is good news, demonstrating that customers see the benefit of durable emulsions and are prepared to pay more for them. This adds much needed value into the market and benefits us all.

“One challenge for the industry is the problem of waste paint. Fifty million litres of paint go to waste in the UK every year – that’s approximately 13% of all sales. Around 64% of this is still usable, yet only 1% is currently being reused. The average person has 17 used tins in their garage or shed! Community RePaint is a UK-wide paint reuse network that aims to collect this leftover paint and redistribute it to benefit individuals, families and communities at an affordable cost.”

BMBI Experts speak exclusively for their markets, explaining trends, issues and opportunities.

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