RCI Article – Merchants’ sales break records in July

Total builders’ merchant value sales to roofers, 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, helped by one extra trading day this month. Six categories did better, with Timber & Joinery Products, Ironmongery and Decorating all 3.9% higher. Average sales a day in July were 3.5% lower than in June.

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, with Timber & Joinery Products (+7.0%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (+5.1%) also performing well. 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.

John Sinfield, Managing Director Knauf Insulation and BMBI’s Expert for Mineral Wool Insulation comments: “Housebuilding momentum and a growing number of enquiries for non-combustible insulation material mean demand for glass and rock mineral wool remain strong.

“These higher sales have resulted in some supply restrictions across the insulation market. In the past, manufacturers have been able to import product to match sales to demand – due to strong markets in Europe, that option is not available this time. The restrictions should ease towards the end of the year, as manufacturers, and their supply chains, see the effects of adjustments made to their operations.

“In June, a consultation was opened, banning combustible materials in the external walls of high-rise residential buildings. When concluded, it will be interesting to see how this adds to demand for non-combustible glass and rock mineral wool insulation. There have already been a number of influential voices speak out on this issue. RIBA, the Association of British Insurers, the MCRMA, Chair of the Local Government Association Lord Porter, the APPG on Fire Safety and Rescue, and most recently, the General Secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, have all called for a ban on the use of combustible building materials”.

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.