RCI Article – Merchants value sales up in May

Total builders’ merchant value sales to roofers, builders and contractors increased 6.9% in May compared with May last year. Five categories did better, with Plumbing Heating & Electrical (11.9%) the top performer. Landscaping (+11.3%), Timber & Joinery Products (+8.2%) and Kitchens & Bathrooms (+7.1%) also sold more. Heavy Building Materials, the largest category, grew more slowly (+5.1%) and only Workwear & Safetywear sold less (-5.3%).

Overall sales in May were 11.4% higher than April, helped by one extra trading day. Seasonal category Landscaping (+29.0%) did best and Timber & Joinery Products sold 9.4% more. Average sales a day in May were 6.1% more than April.

The first five months of 2018 were up 3.5% on the same period in 2017, with one additional trading day this year. The strongest category was Plumbing Heating & Electrical (+11.3%) and Timber & Joinery Products (+5.5%) also did better. Year to date average sales a day were up 2.5% on January to May 2018.

May’s BMBI index was 129.4, up from 116.1 last month. Landscaping (170.4) was top and Timber & Joinery Products (126.7) was just below the overall index.

John Duffin, Managing Director Keylite Roof Windows and BMBI’s Expert for Roof Windows says: “The first three months of 2018 were difficult for construction, mainly due to the extremely poor weather. Sales of roof windows, however, were not as badly affected as the industry in general and our year began strongly. This has continued into Q2 with a long period of soaring temperatures making good weather for home improvement activity. We’re confident the year will continue to perform well driven by underlying strong demand.

“The most recent index figures published by CIPS/HIS Markit UK Construction PMI showed an increase to 52.5 in April from 47.0 in March and have maintained a positive figure in May. This is encouraging too. The industry must also take heart from the fact that low interest rates continue – at least for a while. We hope these conditions will actually boost RMI – with more families deciding to ‘improve not move’ as the means to meeting their housing needs.

“The trend towards white PVC roof windows and innovative products to suit busy lifestyles continues. As long as we can succeed in meeting these needs, we believe the roof window industry will continue to grow.”

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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