RCI Article – Merchants’ sales up 6% month-on-month

Merchants’ sales up 6% month-on-month

Total Builders Merchants value sales to roofers, builders and contractors were up 6.0% in May 2019 compared with the previous month. Sectors that performed well on a month-by-month unadjusted basis included Landscaping (+10.7%), Heavy Building Materials (+6.7%), Tools (+5.0%) and Decorating (+4.9%).

However, the adjusted May 2019 figures, which take into account the trading day difference, show that on a like-for-like basis, Total Builders Merchants’ sales in May were just 1% higher than April, with Landscaping and Heavy Building Materials the only sectors reporting an increase over the period.

Compared with the same period last year, Total Builders Merchants’ sales in May 2019 were flat (+0.0%). Timber & Joinery Products (+0.9%) and Heavy Building Materials (+0.3%) saw marginal sales increases year-on-year, while many sectors reported lower sales in May 2019 compared to May 2018.

May’s BMBI index was 129.3, with Landscaping the highest category at 171.1 – and its highest index to date.

John Coe, Commercial Director Alumasc Water Management Solutions (AWMS) and BMBI Expert for Civils, Metal Rainwater & Drainage, comments: “From our vantage point, the first quarter had a good start to the year across all sectors, but we believe some Q1 activity may be overstated because a good number of suppliers (AWMS included) have been building additional stock in anticipation of the Brexit deadline.

“There is also a significant cost to carrying surplus stock for a prolonged period and this will be affected negatively by continuing delays in large projects. This cost of uncertainty could become an industry hangover later in the year.

“Now that the Brexit saga is rolling on until October, businesses in construction can at least move forward with a little more stability. Companies are just getting on with the business of building. However, the uncertainty is manifest as a general reluctance to commit to investment in larger projects and schemes. Looking ahead, although enquiry levels are strong, project starts are continuing to be affected by lack of confidence, and delays.”

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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