RCI Article – February merchants’ sales driven by outdoor trades

February merchants’ sales driven by outdoor trades

Total Builders Merchant value sales in February 2019 were up 4.1% compared with February 2018 – and up 8.2% compared with February 2017. A relatively dry and mild month helped outdoor trades. As a result, Landscaping (+11.6%) and the largest categories Heavy Building Materials (+4.7%) and Timber & Joinery Products (+4.3%) did better than merchants overall, while Decorating (+2.5%) and Plumbing Heating & Electrical (+0.4%) grew more slowly.

Cumulative sales for January and February were 4.5% ahead of the same period last year. Landscaping (+9.4%) was strongest, with Heavy Building Materials and Timber & Joinery Products both up 5.3%.

The rolling 12 months March 2018 to February 2019 were 3.6% above the same period a year earlier, with one less trading day. Average sales a day in the period were 4.0% higher.

February’s BMBI index was 108.7, the highest February BMBI index to date. Plumbing Heating & Electrical was top (125.7). The average sales a day Index for February was 112.8.

John Coe, Commercial Director Alumasc Water Management Solutions (AWMS) and BMBI’s Expert for Civils, Metal Rainwater & Drainage: “We have seen a very good start to the year and anecdotally, the same appears to be true for the rest of the industry. In the commercial market, there is continuing strong interest in bespoke solutions which offer an offsite solution. The challenge is to ensure resources match this growth in enquiries.

“The civils sector looks forward to significant projects and investment coming down the line in 2019. Docks and airport infrastructure represent significant civils work including regional airports at Stanstead, Manchester and East Midlands and, across the sea, major project work at Dublin airport.

“Unfortunately, the uncertainty of the Brexit negotiations continues to threaten to defer the start of many projects and puts a question mark over commitments in the pipeline. The industry needs to be confident that the increase we’re seeing in enquiries and tenders will convert to orders and live jobs. But, with a fog of uncertainty hanging over the entire Brexit process and with questions over Brexit itself, this can only lead to project delays despite such a positive industry outlook.”

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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