Buildingtalk.com blog – November merchant sales show pre-election dip

Total Builders’ Merchants’ value sales to builders and contractors in November 2019 were down -7.4% compared with the same month in 2018. On one less trading day, average sales a day dropped -3.0%. The following categories were particularly affected: Tools (-12.7%), Timber & Joinery (-9.6%), Ironmongery (-8.0%), Heavy Building Materials (-7.9%) and Landscaping (-7.4%).

The best performing sectors in November 2019 compared with the same period in 2018 were Renewables & Water Saving (+5.3%) and Workwear & Safetywear (+3.7%).

Month-on-month, November’s sales were down -10.0% compared with October 2019. All product categories experienced lower sales over the period. However, when adjusted for two less trading days in November, the drop was less severe at -1.4%.

November’s BMBI index was 113.4, with Plumbing, Heating & Electrical the highest at 134.6. The index for Heavy Building Materials was 112.2.

Derrick McFarland, Managing Director for Keystone Lintels and BMBI’s Expert for Steel Lintels comments: “The seasonally adjusted CIPS UK Construction total activity index rose to 50 in December, a small increase from 49.3 in November. Looking ahead however, UK construction firms are mildly optimistic that volumes will improve through 2020.

“Although we have a majority in parliament, the questions remain. Will the Government put out the Brexit fire or continue to pour fuel on its constant flame? Will the 31st January 2020 end this nightmare, or will it get kicked down the road once more? This all suggests a subdued year ahead.

“Once again we set plans in place to support our loyal customers after the end of January 2020 with a substantial stock of raw material and finished goods in the United Kingdom. By questionable fortune, we are now well-practised in this task.

“Looking positively, enquiry levels are fairly strong, the demand for housing hasn’t gone away, and mortgage rates are still low. Such low mortgage rates combined with modest wage inflation and softening house prices could be a good deal for buyers. But, to maintain our build programmes and supply a market that starts moving again, we believe that continuing access to EU labour and skills will be critical.”

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

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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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